Last week we reported on the sit down X-Men and X2 director Bryan Singer and franchise producer Lauren Shuler Donner did the LA Times' Geoff Boucher to reminisce about the conception and reception of the X-Men films they worked on together, and opened up about their plans for the future with X-Men: First Class, which Singer had been confirmed to be directing from a script by Jamie Moss (Street Kings).
A shorter version of the article ran in this past weekend's Calender section, but right before it was released, HitFix had learned that despite the announcement by Singer and the studio's confirmation that he would be returning to helm First Class...
... 20th Century Fox is actively searching for directors to step in and helm the film, with discussions with at least two other filmmakers as recently as last week.
What????!!!!! The Times article alluded to the fact that Singer's commitment to direct Jack the Giant Killer for Warner Bros. would likely prevent him from directing other X-Men pics that Shuler Donner was also pitching him -- X-Men 4 with the original cast, and possibly helming Wolverine 2. But the conducting of the interview itself would point to the fact that First Class was moving forward, and with Singer.
The bigger clue that Fox could indeed be on the search for a new director lies in this quote:
Fox, flush with money from 'Avatar,' is eager to move forward with its mutant franchise in all of its permutations, so there are negotiations that need to be done.
Given that Singer is deep into pre-production on Jack the Giant Killer -- currently scouting locations -- it's likely that Singer will deliver the picture to Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures, unless he's looking to get sued. The earliest Singer would finish the big-budget fairy-tale and be able to take on another large-scale production would likely be 2012.
So with Fox having a definite timetable for their X-Men prequels in mind, Singer's schedule may limit his involvement to a role as a producer on the pics. It wouldn't be the worst of outcomes, but I've been pretty pumped on Singer revitalizing the franchise after the last two disappointments in his absence.
The shoe is definitely on the other foot for WB and Fox. You may remember WB lured Singer away with Superman Returns after Fox played hardball with Singer on X-Men 3. Now Fox could potentially have WB scrapping Jack the Giant Killer or at least scrambling for a new director.
But Fox is apparently the one scrambling for now. HitFix didn't reveal any of the directors Fox has approached to possibly fill in for Singer, but they do say:
The filmmakers that they're approaching now about directing "X-Men: First Class" are good names, guys who either have real experience in the comic book movie medium or who have heavy credibility with fan audiences. Names that would make fanboys happy from the first moment they're announced.
I don't even want to guess as to who that could be. Joss Whedon perhaps being approached would be pretty perfect though. The only other names that instantly come to mind are Nolan,Favreau, and del Toro... but we all know they have their respective projects they are committed to. I hope they find a way to keep Singer at the helm. But what other directors would you like to see take over for Singer?