Gambit, Fox’s effort to bring the ragin’ cajun to the big screen in a solo effort, and a movie that literally only exists because Channing Tatum likes the character a lot, has had a really bumpy road.
Having been in development since 2014, Rupert Wyatt was originally slated to direct, best known for his work on Rise of the Planet of the Apes – the first one for those easily confused about the titling of those films. Wyatt then dropped out due to scheduling conflicts in 2015, and was replaced by Doug Liman, hot off the excellent Edge of Tomorrow. Liman too walked away in 2016, and instead offered his services to WB for their then in-production Justice League Dark.
Finally, Fox nabbed perhaps their best filmmaking prospect for the whole endeavor in Gore Verbinski, a visual stylist whose work on films like The Ring and Pirates of the Caribbean made him a fascinating choice to take on a character whose popularity seemed to peak about 20 years ago.
But fate took a turn today, as Verbinski too dropped out of the film per Variety. No reasons were given, but with a production this troubled, one has to assume creative differences are the usual culprit. This was certainly the case with Liman who was quoted as saying: “…I just wasn’t feeling it. I’ve gotta connect to the script”. When Verbinski came on-board, development on the script had basically “started over” per Tatum.
BREAKING: Gore Verbinski exits as director of GAMBIT movie starring Channing Tatum. Last I heard, it was being rewritten to make it “more New Orleans.”
— Jeff Sneider (@TheInSneider) January 11, 2018
At some point, Fox may just have to call it on this one. They certainly want to be in the Channing Tatum business, but going through three directors over the course of three years with a slated 2019 release date calls into question if it’s really meant to be. Tatum, for his part, is still on-board…so we’ll see if a fourth filmmaker takes the plunge, or if the studio does indeed finally pack it up and focus their resources elsewhere.
After the Disney sale, one wonders what Fox’s long-term plans are at this point anyway and how they may interact with whatever Marvel Studios may want to do with these properties. The recent report that a Kitty Pryde project was also in development really throws more questions into the mix.
Entertainment Editor for The Beat covering film, television and the occasional comic book. His work can also be found at GeekRex.com and can be heard on the GeekRex podcast. Also, your go-to Grant Morrison/Love & Rockets/Hellboy/Legion of Super-Heroes expert.