Legendary Pictures has hired “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” star John Boyega to play the lead in the next installment of “Pacific Rim.”
He will play the son of Idris Elba‘s character, Stacker Pentecost. Elba played a marshal in the Pan Pacific Defense Corps who led the charge against massive, invading kaiju monsters.
The sequel to the 2013 original, “Pacific Rim: Maelstrom” will be directed by Steven S. DeKnight, whose credits include the television series “Smallville” and “Daredevil.”
Guillermo del Toro, who co-wrote and directed the original, will be producing along with Thomas Tull, Mary Parent and Jon Jashni. Boyega will also be producing with Femi Oguns under their Upper Room Productions company.
Travis Beacham, who created the world of kaiju monsters and giant robots with del Toro, contributed to the sequel’s story. Del Toro wrote the script along with Derek Connolly, Zak Penn and Jon Spaihts.
“The Pacific Rim universe will be reinforced with [Boyega] as a leading man as it continues to be a multicultural, multi-layered world,” de Toro said in a statement. “‘The World saving the world’ was our goal and I couldn’t think of a better man for the job.”
Parent, Legendary’s vice chairman of worldwide production, reiterated confidence in Boyega’s casting: “It is undeniable that with all his talent and natural charm, John stands out amongst today’s generation of young leading men.”
Boyega, whose profile increased exponentially after starring in “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” has amassed and impressive list of future projects, including “Star Wars: Episode VIII”; “The Circle” with Tom Hanks and Emma Watson; “Imperial Dreams”; and “Watership Down” with James McAvoy and Sir Ben Kingsley. Boyega is also set to appear on stage next year in “Woyzeck” at the Old Vic.
He is represented by WME, Identity Agency Group and Hansen Jacobson.
Universal will distribute “Pacific Rim: Maelstrom” globally, except for China.
While there is no release date set for the film, Legendary is targeting the end of this year.
In a surprising twist, del Toro stepped aside as director on the Legendary sequel in February. DeKnight was installed in his place after steering Marvel Television’s “Daredevil” to a successful first season on Netflix, TheWrap reported previously.
Del Toro was unable to direct the sequel because his hands have been full between “Fantastic Voyage” at 20th Century Fox and “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” at CBS Films.
The 2013 original wasn’t a huge success by any means, grossing $411 million worldwide against a $190 million production budget — which doesn’t include the presumed millions spent on marketing. But its $309 million foreign take made it a strong contender for a return installment.
The sequel represents DeKnight’s feature directorial debut. He has plenty of experience catering to genre fans in TV, however. He created “Spartacus” for Starz and worked on “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Angel,” “Dollhouse” and the aforementioned “Smallville.”