Channing Tatum, who was slated to play Gambit in a “X-Men” spin-off film, was among the stars who gathered for a group selfie with comic book legend Stan Lee. However, it seems like 20th Century Fox’s “Gambit” has descended into a state of falling apart as sources told TheWrap that Tatum is considering to drop out of the spin-off film.
— 20th Century Fox (@20thcenturyfox) July 12, 2015
It is unclear whether Tatum will remain involved in the production with his Free Association producing partner Reid Carolin, but sources close to the project told TheWrap that Tatum’s reps are currently in “active discussions with the studio”. The sources further acknowledged that “something is up”.
The solo movie has long been a passion project for Tatum, as he revealed in an interview:
I love Gambit… I grew up in the South; my father’s from Louisiana. We’d go to New Orleans and I heard all the dialects. It felt so different from the rest of America; it has its own ancient culture. So I identified with that. And he always felt the most real of the X-Men to me. He’s kind of a tortured soul and he’s not a good guy. But he’s not a bad guy, either. He walks his own path. And of course he plays cards and drinks and is a martial-arts badass!
His attachment to the project encouraged the studio to ramp up production.
Now, the casting is back to square one and the studio will need to search for the leading man quickly as the production will begin filming this October.
Tatum’s character, which was created by writer Chris Claremont and artist Jim Lee for Marvel Comics, was described as an incredibly knowledgeable mutant with the ability to mentally create, control, and manipulate pure kinetic energy to his every whim and desire. He often uses a bō for hand-to-hand combat and throw cards to track down his enemies. He was previously portrayed by Taylor Kitsch in the 2009 film, “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”.
It is unclear whether producers Simon Kinberg and Lauren Shuler Donner will move forward the project on their own, as Tatum’s departure has left the film’s future uncertain.
Meanwhile, it was reported that a slew of young actresses were involved in the screentests with Tatum. Best known for her roles in “Blue is the Warmest Color” and “SPECTRE“, Lea Seydoux was among the actresses reading for the female lead role.
Tatum’s decision to depart from the film was not clear, but Carolin said in a recent Grantland profile that he and Tatum are planning to make their directorial debut soon. The actor is also slated to star in “23 Jump Street” for Sony.
UPDATE (2nd Aug, 10:02am):
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Channing Tatum will still star in and produce the Gambit movie as his deal with the studio has closed. Sources said that the negotiations did hit a sensitive spot, but such issue is “a normal part of top-level talent dealmaking”. Fox sees Tatum’s casting akin to Hugh Jackman’s involvement in the X-Men universe. The latter has appeared in various “X-Men” films and his own solo films as Wolverine. Thus, the commitment could last more than a decade.
Director Rupert Wyatt (of “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” fame) is attached to helm the film while Josh Zetumer will remain serving as the scriptwriter with longtime “X-Men” scribe Chris Claremont.
“Gambit” is currently scheduled for release on 7th October 2016.