Update 8/1: It sounds like Tatum’s people know how to negotiate a deal by leveraging the press. Tatum got what he wanted, backend compensation, and now has closed his deal to play Gambit. Though to be fair, earlier reports sound like they were premature, THR says the star’s “participation hardly was in any real danger,” and the back and forth was part of any normal negotiation.
Is Channing Tatum leaving the 20th Century Fox family after showing up at Comic-Con arm in arm with all the current “X-Men” and “Fantastic Four” team? Tatum’s been the driving force behind a “Gambit” movie, a character arguably not solo-movie worthy, but the actor’s enthusiasm for the “X-Men” mutant was enough for Fox and producers Simon Kinberg and Lauren Shuler Donner to eventually green-light the picture. But according to a report from The Wrap tonight, negotiations with Tatum have broken down and the actor is expected to exit the role.
This would leave director Rupert Wyatt scrambling for a new lead actor as “Gambit” is already set to shoot this fall and land in theaters October 7, 2016; about a year turn-around. Evidently Lea Seydoux has tested for one of the roles in the movie, but is there even a “Gambit” movie without Tatum? Probably enough investment and development has been made in the project that the production could just replace him, but “Gambit” is really specific and the movie had a hard time finding a director. Several big names were offered the gig (Bennett Miller, J.C. Chandor) and all of them passed until Wyatt signed on (would he even want to stick around if the spearhead of the movie left?)
There’s apparently some hope still out there with one source admitting that “something is up,” but that active discussions are still taking place. “Gambit” — said to be budgeted around $154 million — is an odd choice to front his own movie, and the character — a Cajun gambler who has the ability to mentally create, control, and manipulate pure kinetic energy to his desire, known to charge playing cards with said energy, using them as explosive projectiles — always seemed better as a supporting character to appear in X-Men movies. But if “Ant-Man” was able to pull off a semi-success solo super hero movie thanks to the Marvel brand, 20th Century Fox is probably thinking the same.
The Wrap hints that Tatum’s recent ambitions may be taking his attention elsewhere, they cite a recent Grantland profile with Tatum’s producer/writer Reid Carolin who says he and Tatum are planning to make their directorial debut soon. Perhaps there’s a more enviable project in the works that we don’t know about. Keep your ear to the ground on this one as more surely develops in the next 24-48 hours.