Michael Mann to Shoot New Cyber-Thriller in Hong Kong (Report)

Michael Mann

Updated: The director arrives in the city to scout for locations and audition local stars for roles in his upcoming Chris Hemsworth-starring film, according to reports.

HONG KONG -- Michael Mann will set parts of his upcoming hacker thriller in Hong Kong and cast a pair of Chinese actors to play two prominent roles.

Produced by Legendary Pictures -- which has already had experience of a Hong Kong location shoot with The Dark Knight -- Mann’s as-yet-untitled project will feature scenes shot in the city according to the Chinese-language Apple Daily.

The report said Mann and his entourage arrived in Hong Kong on Friday and spent Sunday night walking around Jordan, a bustling area in the center of the city, to scout for locations.

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The visit reportedly took place after a series of meetings the director had with local stars during the afternoon, as A-listers such as Tang Wei (a Bafta nominee for Ang Lee’s Lust, Caution and star of current Chinese chart-topper Finding Mr. Right), Nick Cheung Ka-fai (The Stool Pigeon, The Viral Factor) and Shawn Yue Man-lok (who starred opposite Josh Hartnett in Tran Anh Hung’s Hong Kong-set I Come With the Rain) were spotted visiting the hotel Mann was staying in.

Chris Hemsworth signed up for Mann’s film in February, and it is understood that producers have been searching for appropriate locations for the Hong Kong-set scenes since then.

Legendary’s Hong Kong shoot for The Dark Knight -- which involved scenes of a carrier plane flying low over the city, and also a sequence set in and around the central business district -- was facilitated by local shingle October Pictures, which also contributed to the Hong Kong shoots of Contagion and Transformers: Dark of the Moon.

When contacted by The Hollywood Reporter on Tuesday, the company declined to offer details or comment on its role in Mann’s project.

It remains to be seen how Mann’s cyber-theft feature will play out at a time when Beijing and Washington are regularly attacking each other for masterminding organized hacking into computer systems.

While some Hollywood productions have offered narratives with positive depictions of China and Chinese culture -- the savior for Iron Man 3’s Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), for example, is the Chinese scientist-doctor Dr. Wu, played by veteran actor Wang Xueqi -- there are others that paid no heed toward the country’s notoriously sensitive censors.

Contagion, for example, is based on the premise of an epidemic with roots in Macao and Hong Kong. Meanwhile, The Dark Knight was also met with mild criticism here for depicting the city where outlaws -- in the shape of a mob accountant, played by Singaporean actor Chin Han -- could flee to and live freely.

It was reported last week that World War Z will be released in China in a version devoid of dialogue, referring to the country as the source of a virus that eventually led to a zombie outbreak. The film stars Brad Pitt, who has remained persona non grata for his role in Seven Years in Tibet, which the authorities deemed as offering an unflattering depiction of Chinese military officials taking over the southwestern region in 1950.