EXCLUSIVE: After staking out a February 23, 2018 release date earlier today, Legendary Pictures is targeting Scott Eastwood for a key role alongside John Boyega in the second installment of its Pacific Rim franchise. Deadline revealed June 6 that Legendary was building the Steven S. DeKnight-directed sequel around the Star Wars: The Force Awakens star, and the company is now casting up in earnest and I think Eastwood will be the next to join the fold if his deal makes. The picture begins production late this year, based on the world created by Guillermo del Toro and Travis Beacham. Boyega will play the son of the character played by Idris Elba in the del Toro-directed original film. It wasn’t clear what the Eastwood role would be in a film that Universal will release worldwide, everywhere but China. The 2013 original grossed $411 million.

Eastwood, son of the iconic actor/director Clint Eastwood, is fast emerging as a potential star. Deadline broke news in April that Eastwood would join Fast 8 in a new role created for Universal’s biggest movie franchise which is being helmed by Straight Outta Compton‘s F. Gary Gray. Eastwood, who will be seen starring in the ensemble of the David Ayer-directed Suicide Squad, which Warner Bros releases August 5, also will appear in the Oliver Stone-directed Snowden, which Open Road releases September 16. UTA reps him.

Thomas Tull, Mary Parent, Jon Jashni, and del Toro will produce the action adventure film along with Boyega and Femi Oguns under their Upper Room Productions shingle. Cale Boyter is executive producer. How promising does the picture look now, after Legendary showed the reach of its new owner, Wanda, with the successful launch of Warcraft in China?