Olivier-Megaton-and-Liam-NeesonEXCLUSIVE: Olivier Megaton will be back in the director’s chair for Taken 3, the latest film in the action franchise hatched by Luc Besson‘s EuropaCorp. Megaton directed the second film in the series that’s been distributed by 20th Century Fox. While it’s likely that Fox will be on Taken 3, I understand negotiations are still underway. This will be Megaton’s next project with a start date I hear could be as early as March. In a new piece of casting, Deadline understands that Forest Whitaker is in talks to join Liam Neeson and other forest whitakerreturning actors including Maggie Grace. Neeson stars as Bryan Mills, the retired CIA agent who used his brutal skills to track down his daughter after she was kidnapped in the first film, and who was himself taken hostage in the sequel. Deadline’s Mike Fleming Jr reported last summer that Neeson was closing a deal in the vicinity of $20M to reprise his role as Mills. Neeson was a reluctant participant in the first sequel, but got paid in the $15M neighborhood.

The initial Taken cost around $25M and grossed more than $226M with Pierre Morel directing. That film made most of its money domestically. Conversely, the Megaton-directed Taken 2, which cost around $45M and took in more than $376M, grossed about $100M more internationally than it did in North America. As with both of those films, Besson and Robert Mark Kamen wrote the screenplay for Taken 3. Europa will continue pre-sales in Berlin next week. Whitaker is repped by WME, Grace is with UTA and Neeson is at CAA.