Rob Cohen must really like flip-flops because he seems to flip and flop in and out of love with the xXx action franchise. He directed the first installment way back in 2002, only to drop out of the sequel when Vin Diesel also bailed. Then he signed back on to direct xXx: The Return of Xander Cage (when Diesel had a change of heart and decided to return to the franchise), only to leave again when the film stalled in production.

Guess what? Cohen is back directing the film – which has now moved from the Sony lot to Paramount Pictures.

Oh – and it’s also going to be in 3D!

The behind the scenes story of the xXx franchise is quite a complicated one.

Joe Roth produced the first two films through his now defunct Revolution studios, and the films were distributed by Columbia (Sony) where Roth’s company had set up shop. However, after a few unsuccessful films the company folded, but the rights to xXx still remained with Roth, who licensed the rights for a third film to Columbia – even though the second film underperformed at the box office (and killed off Diesel’s character, Xander Cage).

After Diesel’s career-comeback with Fast & Furious, it looked xXx 3 might be a sure thing. Cohen had also just come off the $400 million-grossing Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, despite his previous film being the mega-bomb Stealth. The duo wanted to take another crack at the xXx franchise and Sony appeared all too eager to stump up the cash.

The proposed plot for the film is as follows (via Deadline):

“Xander Cage (Diesel) is left for dead, but returns to execute a very difficult assignment that only he can pull off. Samuel L. Jackson will reprise his role as Agent Augustus Gibbons, Xander’s handler. Most of the action takes place in Europe.”

xxx vin diesel2 Director Rob Cohen Is Back Directing xXx 3D!

xXx 3 was written by Michael Ferris and John Brancato then stalled in production at Sony, for reasons believed to be of the financial persuasion. Cohen bailed to direct Medieval and xXx 3 got a new director. However, Roth felt that the film wouldn’t see the light of a projector under the  Sony banner, so he took the project to Paramount, whose vice chairman, Rob Moore, worked on the first xXx.

Cohen said:

“I left the project because I had a very strong instinct it would never get made at Sony, that it wasn’t picking up the critical mass and traction that a movie needs. I got along very well with everybody there, from top to bottom, but in these recession times, you make your picks carefully and it always comes down to judgment calls based on taste and the objectives you’re trying to meet for the studio. For whatever reason, Paramount sees the future of this, and we’re in a very positive place at a new home where there is genuine enthusiasm.”

However, the path to cinematic excellence (or at the very least mediocrity) never runs smooth and Cohen’s new project, Medieval, also fell on some dark times. The Alex Litvak and Michael Finch-penned script hit logistical problems when it was decided that the film would shoot in Dubrovnik this spring in order to save a lot of money on set construction. The problem was that Dubrovnik in spring is an incredibly popular tourist location, and when it came down to closing the town off for Hollywood, or having tourists roam around, the local economy decided on the tourists, leaving Medieval up in the air. At the very least, the film reportedly  now has McG attached as the director .

Cohen appears to be quite taken with 3D after shooting a new Coke advert in the medium, and he decided that he wanted take to xXx the next level – wait the franchise has already been there (see xXx 2), how about taking it to the next dimension?

Cohen said:

“I feel what we did in the beginning of the decade was bring a different attitude to the action movie and a different kind of hero. With the new 3D instrument and the techniques I can apply, we can create a different kind of cutting-edge experience in 3D by shooting it that way from the beginning the way James Cameron did Avatar. This won’t be fantasy characters; it takes place on Earth in real time. That’s a new dimension to be explored, and I’m excited.”

So, Vin Diesel’s chrome-dome in 3D! Extreme sports and explosions coming “at-cha!” Hot Honeyz reachin’ off the screen?

I mean, there’s got to be something for everyone right there!

xXx: The Return of Xander Cage is expected to open late in 2011 or early 2012 – if Rob Cohen stays onboard as the director!

More when we get it.

Source: Deadline