In 2002, Vin Diesel starred as the extreme athlete-turned-spy Xander Cage in director Rob Cohen’s (The Fast and the Furious) xXx. Despite lukewarm reviews, the spy thriller became a verifiable box office hit by grossing over $277 million on a $70 million budget. With such success, the film received a sequel in 2005 in the form of xXx: State of the Union, but Diesel didn’t return and the lead was instead played by Ice Cube. However, with worse reviews and no success at the box office, the sequel seemed to effectively kill the franchise.

Nevertheless, a third film, tentatively titled xXx: The Return of Xander Cage, has been teased since 2008, with Diesel attached to return. Cohen originally intended to return as well, but has since dropped out. More recently, in early 2014, Diesel said the script was nearly done and this summer the actor announced filming would begin on xXx 3 near the end of 2015. Now, Diesel has revealed the director of the threequel.

In an interview with io9, Diesel announced that D.J. Caruso (Disturbia, I Am Number Four, Eagle Eye) will be helming xXx 3 and the director has since confirmed Diesel’s comments on Twitter. Caruso is also set to direct another action threequel, G.I. Joe 3, as of earlier this year.

Additionally, Diesel’s other big franchise commitment, Universal Pictures’ Fast & Furious, recently set F. Gary Gray as the director for its next installment, Furious 8, which has already been scheduled for April 2017. As a result, Diesel speculated about the filming schedules of the two movies: “The big question now is which will race to production first now that F. Gary Gray is on [Furious 8]? Will XXX race to production first or will Fast race to production first?”

DJ Caruso Direct xXx 3 Vin Diesel: D.J. Caruso Directing xXx 3; Could Shoot Before Fast 8

In terms of scheduling, if xXx 3 stays on track to begin filming at the end of 2015, the threequel could potentially shoot before Furious 8 heads into production sometime next year. Additionally, it seems xXx may be closer to being production-ready if the script, reportedly penned by John D. Brancato and Michael Ferris (Terminator Salvation, Surrogates), was in fact finished earlier this year.

However, Furious 8 has more momentum behind it given the franchise’s growing success that continued with this year’s Fast & Furious 7. Though the series has had its problems, perhaps the biggest being losing star Paul Walker during the production of Furious 7, this action franchise is moving along steadily at Universal. xXx 3, meanwhile, has been reportedly in the works for more than seven years, with little forward momentum at Sony Pictures.

Of course, that could all change now that Caruso has joined the threequel, and given Diesel’s increasing box office stock. But the studio may be looking to the actor’s next release, The Last Witch Hunter, to see how he performs outside of the Fast & Furious franchise before putting xXx into production.

We’ll bring you more information on xXx 3/xXx: The Return of Xander Cage when we have it.

Source: io9, D.J. Caruso

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