<i>Iron Man 3</i> Heading to China

The third installment of Marvel's billion-dollar Iron Man franchise will film in China as part of a just-announced co-financing and distribution agreement between Disney and DMG Entertainment of Beijing. By co-producing Iron Man 3 in China, Disney will have an easier time getting the film cleared by that country's censors, and won't be subject to the annual import cap.

Shane Black (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang) will direct the third movie, which reunites franchise stars Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Scarlett Johansson and Don Cheadle. Ben Kingsley reportedly is in talks to play an unnamed villain, although Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige would only say that, yes, "There are rumors online that we're in negotiations with Ben Kingsley." Whether this announcement amounts to confirmation that the Oscar winner will be playing the Mandarin remains to be seen. Filming is set to begin next month in North Carolina before moving to China in late summer.

Under the deal with Disney, DMG will manage the Chinese portion of production, and retain the China distribution rights. While this morning's announcement doesn't say how much DMG will invest, the company told the Los Angeles Times that the film's budget is $200 million.

Deadline notes that Iron Man 3 will be third major franchise movie in recent years to film in China, following Mission: Impossible III in 2005 and The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor in 2007.

Written by Black and Drew Pearce, Iron Man 3 "will find Tony Stark with his back against the wall, facing his most fearsome foes yet." It opens May 3, 2013.

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