Deadpool Producer Exits as Franchise Shifts to Kevin Feige and Marvel Studios

Following star Ryan Reynolds’ confirmation Deadpool 3 is now in development under Disney-owned Marvel Studios and Marvel Cinematic Universe producer Kevin Feige, insiders say producer Emma Watts has exited the franchise, Variety reports. Watts formerly served as the president of production at 20th Century Fox, who backed the R-rated Deadpool and its 2018 sequel, before Fox was acquired by Disney earlier this year in a $71.3 billion dollar deal also bringing Marvel Comics properties Fantastic Four and X-Men under the Marvel Studios banner. Beyond the successful Deadpool franchise, which grossed a combined $1.5 billion globally for Fox, Watts oversaw the studio’s blockbuster Planet of the Apes and X-Men franchises, including Logan, another R-rated hit.

According to Variety, Watts remains as producer on Reynolds’ Shawn Levy-directed action summer comedy Free Guy, to be distributed by Disney under the Fox label, as well as James Cameron’s multiple Avatar sequels, Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story and Ridley Scott’s The Last Duel.

In July, it was reported Watts would relinquish control over Deadpool and other Marvel properties to Feige as part of a deal that meant staying on at Disney/Fox and overseeing Avatar.

The Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger confirmed in August Marvel Studios wields creative control over the future direction of the Deadpool franchise, but it's not yet known if Deadpool will retain its R rating or transition into a PG-13 rating like Marvel Studios' so far 23-movie collection.

Iger earlier said Disney was open to leaving the character and the Deadpool brand untouched, saying in a December 2018 investors' call: “[Deadpool] clearly has been and will be Marvel branded. But we think there might be an opportunity for a Marvel-R brand for something like Deadpool. As long as we let the audiences know what’s coming, we think we can manage that fine.”

Feige echoed those comments in April, telling Variety, “When we [Marvel Studios] were purchased, Bob said to us, ‘If it’s not broke, don’t fix it.' There’s no question that Deadpool is working, so why would we change it?”

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“The truth is, I’m excited for all of them. I’m excited, and it’s not just the marquee names you know — there are hundreds of names on those documents, on those agreements,” Feige previously told MTV News before the Disney-Fox deal was finalized. Access to almost all of Marvel Comics’ characters, Feige added, fulfills a dream the producer has carried for two decades. “And it’s very exciting.”

A release date for Deadpool 3 has not been revealed.

Disclosure: ComicBook is owned by CBS Interactive, a division of ViacomCBS.