Doug Liman Near Deal to Direct Channing Tatum's 'Gambit'

Rupert Wyatt recently exited the project centered on the card-throwing mutant.
Evan Agostini/Invision/AP
Doug Liman

After losing original director Rupert Wyatt and with an October 7, 2016, release looming like a hangman, Fox has furiously met with filmmakers to hop on board to direct the X-Men spin-off Gambit.

The name the studio has found is a surprising one: Doug Liman.

Liman is in final negotiations to direct the comic book movie after a several rounds of meetings, including one that took place Thursday.

Liman certainly knows his way around action movies. He last directed the well-regarded sci-fi action movie Edge of Tomorrow, which starred Tom Cruise. He is also known for directing Mr. & Mrs. Smith and The Bourne Identity, two massive hits, commercially and critically.

But those two movies are also famously known for having been troubled productions, with the films needing to be saved in post-production. Fox distributed 2005's Smith, while Stacey Snider, now co-chairman of Fox, was the chairman of Universal who oversaw the tumultuous making of 2002's Bourne.

Still, Liman has had time to mend relations. He just wrapped Mena, a 1980s drug cartel drama that reteams him with Cruise and will be distributed by Universal. 

And it is believed that Simon Kinberg, who worked with Liman as the writer on Smith and has also developed into one of the town's more powerful forces, will exercise a strong hand as one of the producers. (Lauren Shuler Donner is also producing.)

Other names in the mix for the gig were Joe Cornish, Shane Black and, earlier on, F. Gary Gray.

Wyatt was set to direct the stand alone X-Men film, but on Sept. 16 dropped out of the production, citing a scheduling conflict with an unnamed project. But a studio exec who previously worked with the Rise of the Planet of the Apes director revealed to THR that Wyatt's departure was over creative differences, saying, "He wants to make the best version of something, and he's so desperately afraid of making something not good." 

The New Orleans-based mutant has the power to manipulate kinetic energy and is known to fight with a staff and a deck of playing cards. Gambit made his first screen appearance in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, where he was played by Friday Night Lights star Taylor Kitsch.

Liman is repped by CAA

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