A Gambit movie has been in the works for a long while now, and with Disney’s acquisition of 20th Century Fox’s film studio, the future of the X-Men spinoff is in a state of flux. But throughout the film’s development, it’s gone through a number of different directors and script revisions, all under the watch of Channing Tatum, who’s signed to star as the titular mutant in addition to producing the film.
The first director who officially signed on to direct Gambit was Rise of the Planet of the Apes filmmaker Rupert Wyatt, who boarded in June 2015. Development continued and Lea Seydoux was cast as the film’s female lead, Bella Donna Boudreaux, but in September 2015, Wyatt dropped out of the film. Other directors would eventually sign on and then leave, including Doug Liman and Gore Verbinski, but the film has yet to come to fruition, and we’ve only gotten minor updates on what it would entail.
Collider’s own Steve Weintraub recently spoke with Wyatt at SXSW in anticipation of the release of his new sci-fi film Captive State, and during the course of their conversation, Wyatt revealed not only why he left Gambit, but what his version of the film would have entailed. As for why he exited the movie, Wyatt says we have Fox’s Fantastic Four reboot to blame:
“Fantastic Four came out, did not do very well for Fox, [and] they decided to lower our budget. We were 12 weeks out, we couldn’t recover. The script needed a huge amount of rewriting in order to fit that budget, and ultimately the powers that be chose not to go down that road, so the film didn’t happen. And then of course whatever happened after me with other directors, I have no idea. What I do know is that Channing Tatum and his producing partner Reid Carolin had an amazing idea of what that movie was going to be, and Josh Zeutemer, the writer, as well. It was terrific, it was a really exciting sort of Godfather with mutants set in the world of New Orleans with different gangs.”
When asked if the film was supposed to be a heist movie, Wyatt actually likened his version more to The Godfather and revealed it would have been set partially in the 1970s:
“Yeah [a heist film] of a sort. I mean it was a period film. It dealt with the 70s up until the present day. It was about kind of mutant gangs and the notion of what it means to belong, tribalism in this bayou-like environment. The swamps of New Orleans. So it would’ve been a lot of fun. I know Channing sort of worked on the script to make it into more of a romantic comedy, I think. Which I read and it was great, it was very different to what I was involved in. But now Disney have the reins so I don’t know what their plans are.”
“I mean look, this is probably getting in the weeds too much but it is interesting to talk about. Invariably what happens with that kind of process of filmmaking, if people don’t have their ducks in a row, they’ll throw it at the wall and they’ll then realize it’s not sticking, and they’ll then spend the $150 million to get it right. Now as a filmmaker I’ve been through that process and it’s really hard to then end up with a piece of work that actually functions and has a cohesive story to it. I think we were in a place—Channing, me, Reid, the producers—where we didn’t wanna have to go through that experience. We wanted to set out to make a particular film and deliver on that, so the whole process of reshoots and all of that stuff, we didn’t wanna go down that road.”
Liman and Verbinski both tried to make Gambit work but left for undisclosed reasons, and now here we are with Fox about to be gobbled up by Disney. It’s unclear if Disney will allow Gambit to move forward as Tatum has intended, if they’ll rework the approach, or if they’ll scrap the whole thing given that it could now feasibly be rolled into the wildly successful Marvel Cinematic Universe.
But I will say I’m a bit bummed Gambit never happened before this Disney deal. Fox was really on a roll making singular, standalone Marvel Comics adaptations—Logan was a raw Western and Deadpool was an R-rated comedy—and I was curious to see what Gambit could be if allowed a certain degree of creative freedom.