Pacific Rim (2013) struggled to surpass $100 million at the North American box office, but internationally, it was a success -- especially China -- with $309.2 million. It grossed $114.3 million in The Middle Kingdom, making it the largest market for the film and the sixth-highest grossing American film in the country. It took awhile for a sequel to get green-lit, but once a Chinese company took a stake in the franchise, they wanted to move rapidly on a follow-up. Because of that, Charlie Hunnam couldn't participate.
"There was a huge scheduling conflict," Hunnam told Den of Geek at a press event for his new film The Lost City of Z. "I was already really, really invested in doing Papillion."
"What happened was Legendary (Entertainment, the production company behind Pacific Rim) was sold to Wanda, which is the big Chinese corporation, and Pacific Rim, although it underperformed in other territories in the world, was an enormous success in China," he continued. "All of a sudden, it became their primary focus to make this and they wanted to do it very, very rapidly… I think their schedule subsequently changed, and I might have been able to do both, but at that time, they were writing the script and they needed to know, was I in or was I out?"
Hunnam was contractually-obligated to appear in Pacific Rim 2, but former Legendary chairman Thomas Tull, a friend of his, let him out of his contract so that he could do a film that he was more passionate about. Hunnam explained: "He was like, 'Dude, you were going to do that other film and that's where your heart is. I don't want you being on set if you're not going to be happy, so go do the other film,' which was ludicrously generous of him. But that's just the type of man he is."
Hunnam starred in Pacific Rim as Raleigh Becket, a washed-up Jaeger pilot who still grieves for the loss of his older brother and co-pilot Yancy Beckect, but he find redemption when he is paired up with untested and emotionally-damaged trainee, Mako Mori (Rinko Kikuchi).
John Boyega stars and will be joined by Scott Eastwood, Cailee Spaeny, and Jing Tian in Pacific Rim: Uprising. The cast also includes Levi Meaden, Adria Arjona, Rahart Adams. Karan Brar, Nick E. Tarabay, Ivanna Sakhno, Zhang Jin, Mackenyu, Shyrley Rodriguez, Wesley Wong, Lily Ji, Chen Zitong, Lan Yingying, and Qian Yongchen.
Pacific Rim: Uprising is currently being filmed, and is expected to hit theaters February 23, 2018. The original Pacific Rim earned $411 million worldwide, with $101 million of that coming domestically.
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Pacific Rim: Uprising will open in theaters on Feb. 23, 2018.