The X-Men spinoff Gambit is once again without a director.
According to Variety, director Gore Verbinski has left the long-in-development 20th Century Fox production. The studio confirmed the departure, but cited no reasons for the parting of ways.
The film, based on the Cajun card-throwing mutant created by Chris Claremont and Jim Lee, has been in the works for sometime. It was first bandied about when it seemed the future of the X-Men feature films was X-Men Origins, a series of films set around Wolverine, the “First Class” at Xavier’s School, Magneto’s solo adventures in the 1960s, and a Gambit film as the character was still popular with readers and Fox executives. Ultimately, only X-Men Origins: Wolverine arrived in its originally conceived form as the First Class and Magneto concepts were remixed into X-Men: First Class. But the Gambit idea never entirely went away, with the studio courting actor Channing Tatum to play the mutant heartthrob.
At one point, it seemed Tatum might leave the project, but secured a deal in 2015 following a good will appearance at Fox’s X-Men panel during Comic-Con International: San Diego in 2015. The film was expected to go into production shortly thereafter with director Rupert Wyatt (Rise of the Planet of the Apes) set to helm the film, but he was gone before the end of that year. Wyatt was briefly replaced by Live. Die. Repeat.‘s Doug Liman, who also eventually walked away. When Verbinski was first announced last October, it seemed as though studio, director and star were finally in alignment; complete with a February 14th. 2019 release date! There was also word that Lizzy Caplan would join the film as the female lead.
Like The Flash feature film, Gambit has a very hard time holding onto a filmmaker. It is unclear what makes both these project so hard to develop or satisfy the demands of a director and studio in ways that would be mutually beneficial.
Meanwhile, the quest to find a director begins anew. Though it might seem simpler to scrap the project entirely as the Marvel Mutants will likely be in control of the Walt Disney Company before it can go into production, the studio must keep grinding along as though business were usual.
Gambit may eventually be released some day.