Gary Susman
June 26, 2003 AT 04:00 AM EDT

In the last five years, Chris Tucker has made only two movies and played only one character, motormouthed cop James Carter in 1998’s ”Rush Hour” and its 2001 sequel. Now, he’s finally ready to go back to work — in ”Rush Hour 3.” According to Variety, he’s working out a deal with New Line for the next installment, a deal comparable to what he earned for ”Rush Hour 2”: a fee in the $20 million range, plus untold millions in a percentage of the profits.

Tucker’s costar Jackie Chan has yet to sign, but once Tucker does, New Line will start negotiations with the Hong Kong star, who stands to earn upwards of $15 million up front and millions more in back-end points, as he did for the 2001 film. (That sequel pulled in $226 million in domestic box office and $347 million overall worldwide.)

Brett Ratner, who directed the first two movies, is attached to direct, but there’s no start date. Ratner had been preparing ”Rush Hour 3” since he dropped out of directing ”Superman” in March, but now he’s in talks to direct ”Be Cool,” the sequel to ”Get Shorty.” Which means the third Tucker-Chan pairing might not reach theaters until 2005. Talk about getting stuck in rush hour traffic.

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