'X-Men': Producer Simon Kinberg Top Contender to Helm Next Movie

Simon Kinberg - Getty - H 2017
<p>Simon <span data-scayt_word="Kinberg" data-scaytid="1">Kinberg</span> - Getty - H 2017</p>   |   Jason LaVeris/Getty
The screenwriter has never directed, but stepped in to help take the reins on Josh Trank’s 'Fantastic Four.'

Simon Kinberg, the writer-producer behind Fox’s hallowed X-Men franchise, is the top contender to direct the studio’s next X-Men project.

There is no official offer, but sources say that it is an idea that both sides have been dancing around for months.

Kinberg has been involved with the X-Men series in a writer and/or producer capacity since 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand, and has become one of the most important players in the X-Men cinematic universe, having his hands in the main X-Men line, nascent spinoff franchise Deadpool, the new (and last for Hugh Jackman) Wolverine movie, Logan, and even TV projects such as Legion.

Kinberg wrote the script for the new X-Men movie, which is to follow-up 2016’s fan-drubbed but money-making X-Men: Apocalypse. Rumblings of him taking over began surfacing last year, but the script was still being worked on. Collider on Tuesday put those rumblings out into the open

A new X-Men movie poses an interesting challenge for the studio: Actors Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender, James McAvoy and Nicholas Hoult wrapped up their three-pic deals with last year’s entry, so new deals will be necessary if anyone is plotting a return.

And returns are indeed being plotted out, at least for some, according to sources.

On paper, Kinberg has never directed a movie, and some wonder whether a studio will let someone make a helming debut on a large-scale, $150 million-plus film. But there’s a flip side to this: Kinberg is not only a veteran producer who knows his way around a set, but he has director experience having stepped in to, um, “manage” productions, such as on productions as Apocalypse.

His more direct involvement may also prove to be key for actors looking for a through line from X-Men: First Class to the present.

Fox had no comment.

Kinberg already has a full plate as a producer, currently in casting mode for Deadpool 2 and in prep on X-Men spinoff The New Mutants, with the latter eyeing an early June start.