Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Matthew Vaughn signs to direct X-Men: First Class. Opening June 3rd, 2011, the prequel joining already insanely crowded 2011 summer season.

As if the summer 2011 season wasn't already crowded enough, June 3rd will now see a face-off between Kung Fu Panda 2: The Kaboom of Doom and X-Men: First Class. After a few days of rumors, Matthew Vaughn has officially signed to direct the Bryan Singer-produced prequel to the current X-Men series. As most of you know, Matthew Vaughn was slated to direct X-Men: The Last Stand before bolting due to issues with creative control and scheduling. Mainly as a result of the amped-up schedule (intended to beat Bryan Singer's Superman Returns to theaters), Brett Ratner's X-Men: The Last Stand ended up costing around $215 million, or nearly $100 million more than X2: X-Men United. Considering that Vaughn now has just over a year to make a new X-Men film from scratch, we can only wonder what kind of promises (monetary and otherwise) were made to get him back in the fold. We can certainly assume that the perceived under-performance of Kick-Ass certainly made it all the more tempting to hold his nose, dive back into the X-Men pool, and hope for the best.

To put it simply, this is a solid win for Fox and Vaughn IF they can keep the budget around $100 million. With the threat of property rights reverting back to Marvel and thus Disney, Fox will keep making one form of X-Men picture or another for as long as they can. This seems like a plausible way to restart the universe, casting cheap new actors and reshaping the next set of films however they choose. But this isn't truly a fourth X-Men picture, so Fox shouldn't budget in that vein. Fox is not a studio famous for creative freedom, so it's unlikely that Matthew Vaughn will have any more free reign than he had last time he tinkered with Xavier's mutant chronicles. I can only presume that this is a pure paycheck gig. It's a shame that Fox is hooked on reboot/prequel fever, when the more plausible option would simply be to make a fourth X-Men picture that dealt with a new, younger batch of mutant recruits that joined the school following the tragic events of the final picture. Still, an X-Men film focusing more on Charles Xavier and Erik (Magneto) Lensheer has a certain appeal, even though it's highly unlikely that Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen will reprise their roles. This one gets a big fat 'we'll see...'.

What's again worth noting is just how crowded summer 2011 is quickly becoming. Heck, there will be three Marvel movies in the space of three months, with Thor opening the season on May 6th, X-Men: First Class opening June 3rd, and Captain America opening on July 22nd (if Paramount has a brain, they'll switch Cap's release date with Transformers 3, so Steve Rogers can open over the Fourth of July holiday). Also in the mix is (in order of release) the next (untitled) Judd Apatow comedy, Pirates of the Caribbean: At Stranger Tides, The Hangover 2, Mission: Impossible 4, Kung Fu Panda 2: The Kaboom of Doom, Fast Five (aka- Fast and the Furious 5), The Green Lantern, Cars 2, Transformers 3, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part Two, Cowboys Vs. Aliens, The Smurfs 3D, and Spy Kids 4. Whew...

Scott Mendelson

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