Pre-production for the next installment in 20th Century Fox’s semi-reboot/semi-prequel X-Men movie (tentatively titled X-Men: First Class 2) has been coming along at a fairly relaxed pace. That pattern continues today, with the news that cameras on the First Class sequel are slated to start rolling no sooner than the first month of 2013.
Back when First Class director Matthew Vaughn officially closed a deal to helm the followup, it was indicated that production could commence by the latter half of 2012. Part of Fox’s motivation for holding back the X-Men flick’s start date is to avoid a scheduling conflict for Jennifer Lawrence, who remains set to reprise her First Class role as Raven/Mystique in the sequel.
When Lawrence signed on to appear in X-Men: First Class, Fox included an option in her contract that would require the Oscar-nominee to appear in future installments, regardless of any potential scheduling conflicts that could arise. Hence, even though Lionsgate is planning on a late summer production start for the second installment in the Hunger Games franchise (which Lawrence, of course, headlines as teen warrior Katniss Everdeen), the actress would have been forced to pass over that sequel, Catching Fire, and instead appear in First Class 2 – if the latter were to have begun shooting around the same time as the next Hunger Games movie adaptation, that is.
Fox has decided against playing chicken with Lionsgate (so to speak) and will not move ahead with First Class 2 until next year, so that Lawrence will be free to return for Catching Fire. That’s surely gratifying news for the latter studio, which is currently in the midst of intense negotiations with Hunger Games co-writer/director Gary Ross to return for the sequel. Those talks have been “difficult” enough so as to prompt concerns that Catching Fire might be delayed, despite it already having an early script draft penned by Simon Beaufoy (Slumdog Millionaire) in place. According to THR‘s sources, though, that’s unlikely to happen – as a deal with Ross is expected to be struck.
In summation: fans of both the X-Men and Hunger Games franchise alike need not fret. Lawrence will reprise her well-regarded turn as Miss Everdeen in Catching Fire – almost certainly under Ross’ supervision – before she returns for a First Class sequel that’s being developed by the familiar tag-team of Matthew Vaughn and Jane Goldman, along with screenwriter Simon Kinberg (Sherlock Holmes). So, you can now just worry about the potential change-ups in filmmaking tactics, which will be employed to produce both a better X-Men flick and improved Hunger Games adaptation alike – rather than be concerned about potential in-fighting between the projects.
Catching Fire remains tentatively slated to hit theaters in the U.S. on November 22nd, 2013.
X-Men: First Class 2 is expected to reach U.S. theaters by Summer 2014.