“The script we never got to a place where everybody was in agreement.”
You’d be forgiven for forgetting that at one point in time, for a brief moment, Pirates of the Caribbean and The Ring filmmaker Gore Verbinski was loosely attached to 20th Century Fox’s Gambit movie. The X-Men spinoff was intended to star Channing Tatum and was in the works for a few years, with a number of different directors coming close to making the project a reality before ultimately falling out. The film eventually got shelved altogether when Disney bought Fox and decided to clear the deck for Marvel Studios’ own spin on the X-Men franchise, but when Collider’s own Steve Weintraub spoke with Verbinski recently for an exclusive interview tied to the 10th anniversary of his Oscar-winning animated film Rango, he couldn’t help but ask how close he came to making Gambit.
The first director attached to Gambit was Rupert Wyatt (Rise of the Planet of the Apes) back in 2015, but he left over creative differences that December after casting Lea Seydoux in the female lead role of Belladonna Boudreaux. Next up was Doug Liman, who entered talks to helm what producer Simon Kinberg called a “heist movie” and “sexy thriller.” And yet, also unhappy with the script, Liman exited the project, and next in line was Verbinski who was reported to be in talks to direct the project in October 2017.
Lizzy Caplan then entered talks to join the film and location scouting was underway in New Orleans, but by January 2018 Verbinski had withdrawn from the project. During our interview, he told us that when he first got the call, the studio made clear they were ready to shoot this thing now:
“The script we never got to a place where everybody was in agreement. I mean, I got a call from the studio saying, ‘We have this project, ‘Gambit’, do you want to do it?’ And they had said, ‘It shoots right away.’ And I said, ‘Well, I don’t know. Let me, think about it.’ And I forget what was happening. There was something schedule-wise where it was actually going to be maybe a good thing if it happened quickly. Then it was like, the script just didn’t get there. Then I had other stuff that was more important to me, and I think other people had other things. So it was like a short window where if it happened, it was going to happen immediately with a lot of urgency.”
Verbinski added that he was never fully committed to making Gambit in the first place, and noted it’s the kind of loose flirtation that happens multiple times a year without leaking to the press. Only this time folks got wind:
“It’s a weird one because for whatever reason, it ended up in the press. But I mean, there’s six of those a year. Where you meet with somebody, you talk about this, you say, ‘Yeah, well, if we can get the script right,’ and nobody ever hears about them.”
Fox continued to develop Gambit, shifting the tone to more of a romantic comedy, but publicly no other director became attached and while Tatum expressed interested in helming it himself, the Disney acquisition was the final nail in the Gambit movie coffin.
I’d like to give the town of Húsavík an Oscar for this extremely charming campaign video.
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