Chinese Comedy Hitmaker Xu Zheng Taking Blockbuster 'Lost In' Franchise to Russia

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Xu Zheng

The first two films in the Chinese road movie series — both of which Xu co-wrote, directed and starred in — earned a combined $463 million.

The third installment of China's blockbuster Lost in franchise is heading to Russia, with series creator Xu Zheng returning to co-write, direct and star.

Shooting at Russian locations began Jan. 24 and the filmmakers are targeting a release date during Chinese New Year in 2020, the film's producer, Huanxi Media, told THR in a statement. 

Lost in Russia will follow in the footsteps of comedy mega-hits Lost in Thailand (2012) and Lost in Hong Kong (2015), which became the number one and two highest-grossing films of all time in China at the time of their respective release, with a combined take of $463 million.

The Lost in formula combines the classic road movie with a fish-out-of-water slapstick comedy. The first film co-starred Xu, Wang Baoqiang and Huang Bo as two scientists searching for their boss in the Land of Smiles, accompanied by a goofball hanger-on who just wants to experience the seedy cliches of traveling in Thailand. The film and its Thai setting proved so popular that it triggered a Chinese outbound tourism boom to Thailand.

The sequel, Lost in Hong Kong, again starred Xu, this time with Bao Bei'er, Zhao Wei and Du Juan. This time the story centered on a forgotten past romance, and the visual style and various set pieces were packed with references to beloved classic Hong Kong films from the 1980s and 90s. 

Part of Lost in Russia's Chinese title roughly translates to "Awkward Mom," an apparent reference to a dominant female character who will star opposite Xu Zheng, the casting for which has yet to be revealed. Apart from the Russian setting and a travelogue storytelling style similar to the earlier installments, little has been revealed about the third film. So far, Huanxi Media has only offered that the story will center on "family relationships."

A rising powerhouse in the Chinese industry, Huanxi Media was founded in 2015 by Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon co-producer Dong Ping, Xu Zheng, Crazy Stone director Ning Hao and former attorney Steven Xiang. Heavyweight filmmakers including Wong Kar Wai, Zhang Yimou and Peter Chan also have stakes in the company, which has contractual relationships with a range of other influential Chinese filmmakers, such as  Jia Zhangke (Ash Is the Purest White), Manfred Wong (The Storm Riders), Wang Xiaoshuai (Beijing Bicycle) and Li Yang (Blind Shaft). The company was behind Xu's most recent smash-hit star vehicle, the social dramedy Dying to Survive, which raked in $453 million last summer to become the third highest-grossing film of 2018 at China's box office.