Jet Li out, Michelle Yeoh in for Matrix Sequels?

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon star Michelle Yeoh is in negotiations to star in Matrix 2 and 3 reports Michael Fleming in his column today in Variety. Fleming also says Jet Li is now out of the running to star in the sequels; the Variety reporter’s sources say Li’s asking price of around $13 million to work in both films was above what the Matrix team had to offer, around $3 mil. As well, there would be no “backend” participation in the movies’ grosses since previous deals with Keanu Reeves and the other Matrix stars cut into that possible revenue stream. Li would also have to give up any money derived from a Matrix video game in which his likeness would have been used.

With Yeoh now in the running to play the super-martial arts nemesis to Keanu Reeves’ Neo (don’t ask how we know that), it will be interesting to see if the up-and-coming actress lands the Matrix role — and if it has any conflict in shooting schedules if she signs another deal to star in Indiana Jones 4. Yeoh’s name was mentioned as a possible co-star in that stuck-in-development-hell project which might be slowly coming together sometime in the next year. If Yeoh’s contract for the two Matrix sequels can be worked out, she’ll be required to film for 11 months in 2001-02.