We've got some good news and some bad news for fans of the first two X-Men movies. The good news is that Fox studios loves Bryan Singer's story treatment for X-Men: First Class and what writer Jamie Moss has done with it, so much so that they want to kickstart this film into production right away. The bad news for many is that Singer won't be directing the movie and instead will take a producer's credit on the project.
The news that Singer may be pulled out of the director's chair on his planned return to the X-Men franchise surfaced last weekend when HitFix learned that Fox was meeting with other directors to take over the job. The reason for this happening was that Singer was already under contract with Warner Bros. to helm Jack the Giant Killer which is shooting this summer and Fox is not interesting in waiting any longer to get to work on their next X-Men films.
With Singer still involved and more importantly, his ideas being utilized, that's at least reassuring considering that the reason producer Lauren Shuler Donner wanted him back in the fold was to help redeem the franchise after its last two installments didn't fare well amongst critics and fans of the books.
First Class follows Professor Xavier's first group of mutant students as they form the X-Men and the movie acts as a prequel to the existing franchise films. Singer's story ideas are based heavily on the relationship between Magneto and Xavier as they work together to start the school and begin to tear apart as their differing philosophies begin to clash.
They're going to have to find someone who fans will get behind to take the reins of X-Men: First Class and the two ideas I fired out last week were Joss Whedon (who's written some awesome X-Men comics in his Astonishing X-Men run) and Matthew Vaughn who's getting a lot of respect from movie and comic book geeks alike for his work on Kick-Ass.
At the moment, it appears Fox wants the movie fast-tracked for a possible release next summer and hope to have this film launch a new trilogy. If Wolverine 2 is also able to start shooting in Japan later this year (after Hugh Jackman is done shooting Real Steel), we could see two X-Men films in 2011 with a Deadpool film starring Ryan Reynolds likely the following year.
There's no official schedule on any of these projects yet and even though Wolverine 2 has a star and a script handed in, it has no director yet. With Singer becoming producer, we can easily assume Fox wants X-Men: First Class in production soon.
Singer is now a part of the franchise's future even if he is only producing First Class. I expect they'll be saving X-Men 4 for him as hinted upon in the large LA Times feature interview with him and Donner where they discussed the franchise and Singer's involvement going forward. It's too bad the timing of that coincided with him no longer being able to do the project.
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