Now You See Me is legitimately the weirdest f’kn franchise to emerge from Hollywood in some time, but it turns out that audiences just can’t get enough of illusionists making wisecracks while pulling elaborate heists. 

The second film in the series, released this year, has so far grossed more than $US 241 million worldwide, and Lionsgate have already announced plans for a third, with director John M Chu attached. 

A look at the numbers reveals that almost half of the worldwide gross of Now You See Me 2 came from China – the film enjoyed a massive $US 44 million opening weekend there, and has so far made more than $US 92 million. 

Thanks to this success, Lionsgate announced that they have teamed up with a Chinese production company, Leomus Pictures, to produce an official Chinese-language Now You See Me spin-off, in continuity with the first two films. 

Leomus CEO Jie Qui told The Hollywood Reporter:

“We’re working closely with Lionsgate on the story. And a Hollywood writer will be involved to make sure the spinoff is aligned with the Now You See Me franchise and has the same level of quality.”

The concept of ‘level of quality’ is relative when it comes to the Now You See Me films, but TBH I paid real money to see one and two and will probably pay to see the third, so I’m not really one to talk. 

Major Hollywood studios are increasingly relying on the Chinese box office for the international success of their films, which is bad news for the Ghostbusters reboot, as it was reported this week that the film was denied a release there.  

Some pointed to the fact that official censorship guidelines technically prohibit films that “promote cults or superstition”, but China Film Co, which handles the release of foreign movies in the country, denied this. An executive said::

“It’s been confirmed that Ghostbusters won’t be coming to China, because they think it’s not really that attractive to Chinese audiences. Most of the Chinese audience didn’t see the first and second movies, so they don’t think there’s much market for it here.”

Earlier this year, Warcraft flopped in the U.S., but became the most successful video game movie of all time thanks to an astounding $US 221 million Chinese gross. Even that was not enough to break even, however, and various sources report that a Wacraft sequel is unlikely.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter / Box Office Mojo.

Photo: Jim Spellman / Getty.