EXCLUSIVE: Chinese actor and filmmaker Xu Zheng has signed on to voice the lead character in Tianjian North Film Group’s animated feature Legend Of A Rabbit: The Martial Of Fire.

Xu is the star and director of Chinese super-hit Lost In Thailand, which became China’s biggest ever local film at the end of last year with a staggering box office haul of $200m. Other casting news on the film will be announced shortly.

The film is the second in a franchise that will include three features, a TV series and an online game. Tianjin is premiering 3D footage from the film at an evening launch event in Cannes on Sunday (May 19).

The first film in the franchise, Legend Of A Rabbit 3D, sold to more than 80 international territories. It was also one of the first Chinese animated films to engage a Hollywood voiceover cast for its North American release.

Tianjin produced the sequel with CB Film, Beijing Film Academy, China Golddeal Investment Co and Kaku Media. Leading Chinese animator Sun Lijun, who is also vice president of the Beijing Film Academy, has returned to direct the sequel.

“Following the success of Legend Of A Rabbit 3D, Tianjin North Film Group is thrilled and excited to be presenting the first footage from Martial Of Fire to the international market in Cannes” said Wang Dafang, chairman and CEO of Tianjin North Film Group.