Welcome to the Domino Effect. An A-list director with a major tentpole on his or her schedule takes a different job. The next step of the process? The movie that they were going to helm all of a sudden has a vacancy, meaning someone in Hollywood's about to get paid.
Earlier today, we shared the news that Edge of Tomorrow director Doug Liman would be taking his talents over to DC for Warner Bros.' planned feature film based on the Justice League Dark. While that is very exciting news for DC fans, it probably had Fox and X-Men fans scratching their heads because Liman was reportedly helming the Gambit movie with Channing Tatum in the lead role. Well, as you might expect, Liman's off of Gambit, with THR calling it a "mutual parting of ways," per a source.
This is just the latest obstacle thrown directly in the path of the Gambit movie, which finally felt like it was getting back on its feet after months (nay, years) of delays and direction changes. As we reported in our guide to Gambit, names from Liman to Rupert Wyatt, from JC Chandor to Darren Aronofsky have all been attached to the Gambit movie over the years. Even Tatum, who largely has been the one name associated with the lead role, wasn't rock solid -- and he keeps adding new projects to his slate with each passing month.
The question now becomes, "Does Fox even need to move ahead with this troubled Gambit production?" The character got a lackluster launch in the deeply flawed X-Men: Origins -- Wolverine, where he was played by Taylor Kitsch.
Since then, though, the mutant side of Fox's creative slate has shifted in a different direction, scoring wins out of Deadpool and the X-Men series, while also giving Hugh Jackman one last chance to play Wolverine in a James Mangold-directed movie. If the future contains Deadpool 2, Wolverine 3, a New Mutants movie and a likely X-Men sequel, where would Gambit fit?
Producer Simon Kinberg has said on record recently that the script for Gambit still wasn't ready, and that was the reason for the delay. The delay likely led to the departure of Doug Liman from the movie, and Channing Tatum certainly can't wait around forever. Maybe it's time to put that Gambit movie back on the shelf, or put it through an extensive rewriting process. Because with no director, an imperfect script and an antsy leading man, the recipe for disaster has been stirred, and the results have a better chance of bombing than they do of soaring.