Channing Tatum was originally slated to make his big screen debut as the Ragin’ Cajun, Gambit in 2016, but the X-Men spinoff film has since been delayed to sometime in 2017 after going through a change in director. The project is now being overseen by Doug Liman as the helm, while producer Simon Kinberg – who penned X-Men: Days of Future Past as well as its upcoming sequel, Apocalypse – oversees script revisions with Tatum, Tatum’s producing partner Reid Carolin, and screenwriter Joshua Zetumer (RoboCop (2014)).
The latest reports on the matter indicate that Gambit remains on course to start principal photography by early Spring 2016, meaning it won’t be able to make its previously-set October 2016 release date. 20th Century Fox has yet to officially announced a new release date for the X-Men spinoff but as the studio already has Hugh Jackman’s final Wolverine solo movie scheduled to arrive in March of next year, it stands to reason that Gambit now won’t be hitting theaters until late Spring or early Summer 2017.
ABC affiliate WGNO (h/t CB) is reporting that Gambit will start production this March in New Orleans, the city where mutant Remy Etienne LeBeau was born in the Marvel Comics. Léa Seydoux (Spectre) is the only cast member lined up for Gambit outside of Tatum, so additional casting updates for the film ought to start popping up online over the course of these next two months (at the time of writing this), ahead of Liman getting the cameras rolling on his comic book adaptation.
Gambit is expected to explore the complicated relationship/romance between Gambit/Remy (Tatum) and Belladonna Boudreaux (Seydoux), highly-skilled individuals who belong to a guild of master thieves and a guild of deadly assassins, respectively. Kinberg has likened the film to being a “heist movie and a sexy thriller” in the past, and he re-iterated the claim during an interview with Empire Magazine, where Kinberg referred to the Gambit movie as a “sexy PG-13 heist film.” Again, per CB:
“Channing is a big fan of the comic, so the accent, the attitude, the costume in many way, will be in the film. And he’s a character with a complex backstory – we’re playing him as a thief in the film, and that’s a big part of the story.”
Now that Fox is expanding its X-Men movie universe beyond regular installments and Wolverine solo movies, the studio will be exploring different genres with these films too. As Kinberg has noted before, the upcoming Deadpool is an R-Rated raunchy action/comedy, whereas X-Men: Apocalypse is a hybrid of historical drama/thriller and fantastical superhero adventure. Gambit, going by Kinberg’s description, has the potential to be another kind of beast altogether, with shades of a crime thriller/romance such as The Thomas Crown Affair and a setting that brings to mind John Wick with its criminal underworlds and secret assassin/thief societies.
It will be all the more important for Gambit to embrace those elements too, if the film’s to stand out from the other genre-blending superhero movies that will be making their way to theaters in the next few years (be it the fantasy/historical adventure Wonder Woman or high school action/comedy Spider-Man). Liman has a solid track record as a director, when it comes to putting fresh spins on formulaic genre conventions in such movies as The Bourne Identity, Mr. and Mrs. Smith and Edge of Tomorrow, so it could well prove to be a blessing that Rupert Wyatt (Rise of the Planet of the Apes) stepped down as the helmsman on Gambit and was replaced by Liman instead.
The change in director could likewise result in Gambit landing a summer release date in 2017, a launch pad that could serve the X-Men spinoff better than its original Fall 2016 date might’ve. Fox already has the comic book move sequel Kingsman 2 and sci-fi franchise installment War for the Planet of the Apes slated to arrive in (respectively) June and July next year, so it’s plausible Tatum’s “sexy (mutant) heist thriller” will arrive in either May or August 2017. The latter is arguably the more likely release frame for Gambit, as that month served the off-beat comic book movie Guardians of the Galaxy well in 2014 and looks to do the same with the quirky Suicide Squad in 2016. August didn’t do Fox’s Fantastic Four reboot any favors in 2015 admittedly, but that superhero movie was doomed well before it hit theaters.
On that note – you can get your first look at Tatum’s Gambit haircut below, thanks to his appearance at the 2016 Golden Globes:
Deadpool opens in U.S. theaters on February 12, 2016, followed by X-Men: Apocalypse on May 27, 2016; Gambit sometime in 2017; Wolverine 3 on March 3, 2017; and an unannounced X-Men film on July 13, 2018. The New Mutants is also in development.