[Update #2: As of October 10th, Marvel has regained the movie rights to Daredevil.]
It was a year and half ago when David Slade (30 Days of Night) was chosen by Twentieth Century Fox to helm the Daredevil reboot, a project that has failed to materialize as the clock winds down for the studio. During Comic-Con 2012 last month, the news broke that Slade would not longer be able direct Daredevil due his work on the Hannibal pilot conflicting with Fox's scheduling needs.
The problem for Fox is that the film rights to Daredevil have restrictions and if they don't have the movie in production by October 10th, then they lose the license as it reverts back to Disney/Marvel Studios. Joe Carnahan (The Grey, The A-Team) almost swept in to save the film but as we learned today, that's no longer happening.
Fox is stuck between a rock and a hard place with their Marvel properties. While the X-Men series is their most important with The Wolverine already shooting and X-Men: Days of Future Past beginning production later this year, Fantastic Four and Daredevil are their other two franchises in need of a reboot. Chronicle director Josh Trank has already signed to helm FF but Daredevil hasn't been so fortunate and it could be because of Fox's feelings (or lack thereof) on the character.
Last week, Variety reported that Fox was in talks with Marvel Studios about a potential trade, one that would involve Marvel giving Fox an extension on the Daredevil rights so they don't have to rush the project, in exchange for the rights to Silver Surfer and Galactus, two key parts of the Fantastic Four mythos and cosmic side of the larger Marvel universe. According to Deadline's conflicting report however, Fox instead simply wanted Marvel Studios to co-finance the film - an option that perhaps would not benefit Marvel as much as getting the rights back.
And get the rights back they might. As we learned from Joe Carnahan today via Twitter, his pitch for a '70s style Daredevil in the vein of Frank Miller's best books in the series didn't fly. He confirmed that it was simply an issue of running out of time at Fox and that his pitch was otherwise very well received. For those interested, he just promised over Twitter to share it soon.
[Update: Joe Carnahan released his Daredevil sizzle reel which can be viewed up top.]
As Deadline reaffirms, Fox is "lukewarm" on the project and it seems now that they may simply let it revert back to Marvel. While at first glance, Daredevil may seem obviously best suited in the hands of its creators, Marvel Studios simply won't be able to produce a Daredevil feature in the forseeable future. If they can't make a television series out of it either, there will be no live-action Daredevil for anyone if Fox isn't making it.
That's the issue of Marvel Studios owning all of their own properties and a big part of the reason ex-CEO Avi Arad initially distributed the film rights to their key characters among a variety of separate studios as to not have them cannibalizing themselves by prioritizing only the higher profile brands.
Follow Rob on Twitter @rob_keyes.