Yuen Woo-ping out of Matrix Sequels?

A scooper that requested privacy slipped us the following email. If it’s true, this is the first we’ve heard of it.

Matial Art Choreographer and Action Director Yuen Woo-ping is having a hard time dealing with the ‘suits’ at Warner Brothers. Continually being hounded about costs (only double plus 10% more than he and his team recieved for the first film and this is for two features and a full years worth of work) and the need of a large staff (the Yuen stunt team), Yuen is considering leaving the project. This could have devestating results as both Mr. Fishburn and Mr. Reeves are both avoid fans and students of the renouned Hong Kong filmmaker.

“At this point in time, it remains to be seen if Woo-ping will continue to be involved in the Matrix sequels. Though he is currently training the cast (wire work effects should be completed by 12/22), there is still four months of rigorous martial arts training to finish up. As it is, Yuen Woo-ping is becoming very disenchanted with Hollywood.

[Name withheld.]

If indeed Woo-ping is disenfranhised with working on the Matrix sequels and left the production, it would be a serious blow felt both by the Wachowskis, the cast members and the sizable Matrix fanbase around the world. We’ve heard similar reports about in-fighting over budgetary issues with the sequels, brought on by unnamed studio executives, but we heard the same thing repeated time and time again by other filmmakers making different movies for different studios. Whenever large sums of cash are involved, of course people are going to be concerned about how much is being spent…and when you’re footing the bill, you always want to save a buck.

Still, just this week Michael Fleming reported about Jet Li not being cast in the sequels because his asking price was too high. According to the Variety story, Li would also not get paid for participation with the future Matrix video games, which struck us as being somewhat unusual. Typically actors can make additional money by licensing their voices or appearance in games, on action figures or comic books. While there’s not big bucks to be made there, it’s still something extra for the actors to get. If Woo-ping is only getting paid 10% more for his work on Matrix 2 and 3, but the original film’s actors, producers and directors are receiving sizable raises, he’s got a right to be pissed. We know Reeves is receiving a big back-end profit participation (as well as a raise upfront) that could see The Keanu make as much as $30 M if the movies are blockbusters…and who wants to guess they won’t be? Not us.

Let’s hope Woo-ping and the producers can iron out a deal. Matrix just wouldn’t be the same without his stunt coordination, and he’s simply the best there is in the biz.

-via Corona Coming Attractions