‘Fantastic Four’ Failure Derailed ‘Gambit’ Movie Plans According to Former Director Rupert Wyatt

The budget of planned X-Men spinoff Gambit was “slashed quite considerably” in the wake of the box office failure of the Josh Trank-directed Fantastic Four reboot, says Rupert Wyatt.

“I was very close with Channing Tatum and his producing partner Reid Carolin, and I was on the script with him and Josh Zetumer as a writer,” Wyatt told Comics Beat.

“We were close, I believe 10 weeks away. It simply came down to budget. There was not enough. You know all too well about the politics of the business. Fantastic Four had been released by Fox a month before and had not gone well for them, so our budget was slashed quite considerably. The inevitable, from my perspective was, ‘Well then we need to rewrite the script to tailor to our budget,’ but we were too close to a start date for Fox to really want to go there, so unfortunately, it just didn’t work out.”

Channing, who has developed the project as star-producer, “had a really, really wonderful idea for what that film could and should be,” Wyatt added. “I know he and Reid are still plugging away at it, so I hope in the new Disney era, that then they get to make it.”

The Rise of the Planet of the Apes director was attached to direct the project until September 2015. He exited citing a push back in the scheduled start date from November 2015 to March 2016 as the cause for his stepping away.

“I was very much looking forward to working with my friend Channing and the team at Fox, but regrettably a push in the start date now conflicts with another project,” Wyatt said in a statement. “I thank them for the opportunity, and I know that Gambit will make a terrific film.”

The studio was reported to be “still fully committed to the film,” which then tapped The Bourne Identity filmmaker Doug Liman. Gambit changed hands again to Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl director Gore Verbinski, who also cited amicable scheduling conflicts for his January 2018 exit.

In January 2019, Tatum was reported to be interested in helming the project himself in his directorial debut.

“When you look at Gambit, he’s a hustler and a womanizer and we just felt like there was an attitude, a swagger to him, that lent itself to romantic comedy,” Dark Phoenix writer-director and longtime X-Men producer Simon Kinberg previously told IGN of the long-gestating Gambit.

“You know, when I say romantic comedy, I use that term loosely, in the same term that I use the term western for Logan loosely. It’s not like they’re gunslingers at high noon in Logan. It’s just a vibe. And I would say the vibe of Gambit has a romantic or sex comedy vibe to it. While it is also still very much a superhero movie with villains and heroes, as all these movies are.”

The Fox-backed Fantastic Four reboot opened to just $25 million in August 2015, going on to gross just $167 million worldwide on a reported budget of $120 million.

Disney, who will soon assume control of the Fantastic Four and X-Men screen rights under its Marvel Studios banner when it completes its $71.3 billion acquisition of Fox, will then decide if the studio moves forward with Gambit and in-the-works spinoffs X-Force and Multiple Man.

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