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Before superhero movies were everywhere, 20th Century Fox and Bryan Singer brought X-Men to theaters back in the year 2000. That franchise is still going strong today, with Dark Phoenix and The New Mutants set to arrive in theaters, despite Fox's upcoming merger with Disney. But Fox has had some missteps along the way, including Josh Trank's already infamous Fantastic Four movie. The comic book adaptation was a critical and financial flop, barely recouping its budget while being panned by audiences and critics alike.
While Fox has let the Deadpool franchise flourish and continued the main X-Men franchise, there is a certain flick that has sat in development hell for years: Channing Tatum's Gambit movie. The fan favorite character's solo movie has been pushed back a number of times, and the Fox/Disney merger makes its fate all the more precarious. Rupert Wyatt was poised to direct the project at one point, but he recently revealed that the failure of The Fantastic Four negatively affected the film's potential budget. As he put it:
I was very close with Channing Tatum and his producing partner Reid Carolin, and I was on the script with him and Josh Zetumer as a writer. We were close, I believe 10 weeks away. It simply came down to budget. There was not enough. You know all too well about the politics of the business. Fantastic Four had been released by Fox a month before and had not gone well for them, so our budget was slashed quite considerably.
Superhero movies may be the most profitable genre in the film world, but they also require the biggest budgets. As such, each new release is a major gamble. Fantastic Four failed to perform at the box office, so it seems Fox kept its purse strings a bit tighter, and didn't want to give Gambit the same type of cash money. Poor Remy Lebeau.
Rupert Wyatt's comments to Comics Beat help to illuminate the myriad delays that have hit Gambit since the potential blockbuster was announced. Channing Tatum has been signed to the project since May of 2014, so moviegoers have been waiting quite a bit of time for the fan favorite X-Man to reappear on the silver screen. Wyatt isn't the only director who has been attached to the project, as Doug Liman also left due to script concerns. The script was presumably being worked on, before the project's development was put officially on hold.
It's unclear if Disney has any interest in bringing Gambit into the MCU, with the House of Mouse expected to acquire the rival studio in a matter of weeks. This puts the fate of Gambit up in the air, as well as where/when exactly The New Mutants will be completed and released. This is a series of events the public has grown accustomed to, although The Fantastic Four's affect on Gambit's budget is an interesting development in the potential film's story.
Gambit has been delayed for years, with three different directors brought on, before eventually departing the ill-fated blockbuster. In addition to Rupert Wyatt and Doug Liman, The Ring director Gore Verbinski was the most recent addition to the trio. Verbinski was set to direct Channing Tatum when Gambit was going to get a December 14th, 2019 release date. The project would be somewhat romantic comedy inspired, and the casting process had even began before Verbinski departed Gambit due to scheduling and creative differences.
From there, Gambit's fate remained unclear. The project got pushed back a number of times since then, although Channing Tatum seemed determined to play the New Orleans mutant one way or another. Most recently, reports indicated Tatum had interest in both directing and starring in the project. Unfortunately, the news stopped there, as Fox's potential projects were put on hold due to the company's impending merger with Disney.
Gambit might never make it to theaters, which will no doubt be a point of contention with the rabid comic book fandom. Gambit became a household name due to the X-Men animated series, and his generations of fans are eager to see the card thrower on the big screen.
Of course, Gambit did appear in live-action once before, although it's a memory the fandom is likely trying to forget. Taylor Kitsch played Remy LeBeau in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, the first spinoff in the X-Men franchise. While playing a supporting role and aligning with Hugh Jackman's Logan, the character (and movie) wasn't received well by the fans. As such, Channing Tatum's possible movie offers a welcomed alternative to that characterization. If it ever makes it to theaters, that is.
Overall, it's unclear exactly what Disney is planning to do with Fox's X-Men franchise, once the merger is finalized at last. While the House of Mouse will likely let Ryan Reynolds' Deadpool franchise operate independently, the rest of the mutants likely won't fare the same. Comic fans are eager to see the X-Men finally appear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, although it seems unlikely that the same cast will be brought onto the payroll. Dark Phoenix has the potential to be the final installment in the long-running franchise, so potential projects like Gambit are probably the least of the studio's concerns at the moment.
Still, a superhero movie starring Channing Tatum as a fan favorite hero seems like money in the bank, who Disney might end up getting yet another director and moving forward with Gambit. Focusing on one X-Man at a time may help ease them into the MCU, rather than bringing an entire team of characters to an already crowded shared universe. At this point, it's anyone's guess.
Comic book fans are also hoping the Fantastic Four will get their own reboot within the MCU, as that's another team that has been noticeably missing from the larger shared universe. But considering how recently Josh Trank's version was in theaters, it may take moviegoers more time to get the taste of that flop out of their mouths.
The next installment in Fox's X-Men franchise will be Dark Phoenix on June 7th, and Gambit's release date was last set on March 13th, 2020. Be sure to check out our 2019 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.