We can all relax now. Channing Tatum is still going to be Gambit, and this time the deal is closed. Earlier this week, reports surfaced that 20th Century Fox’s plans for the X-Men spinoff were on shaky ground when the studio hit a snag in negotiations with lead actor Channing Tatum. Today, THR reports that Tatum finally locked in his deal to lead as the card-slinging Cajun mutant – a moment that was a long thought to be a foregone conclusion.
Indeed, the news of Tatum’s possible departure was met with a reasonable, and apparently accurate, measure of incredulity given that the actor — who has been cheerleading the project for years — attended the 20th Century Fox Comic-Con panel earlier in July and has openly spoken about his preparations for the role in the Rupert Wyatt-directed film.
When the news hit, speculation broke out that the conflict in negotiations arose in light of reports that Gambit will incur a budget of $154 million (for perspective, that’s about the same as Matthew Vaughn’s mutant bonanza X-Men: First Class). However, I don’t find that price tag all that surprising given that 20th Century Fox is trying to launch a new flagship for their mutant franchise – the only superhero Franchise they’ve got that can stand alongside the titans of Marvel and DC (unless Fantastic Four and the modestly-budgeted, very R-rated Deadpool exceed expectations).
With Hugh Jackman’s tenure as Wolverine coming to close after James Mangold‘s next solo film (and Jennifer Lawrence also planning to hang up the blue paint after X-Men: Apocalypse), Fox needs a new iconic MVP to anchor the mutant universe. No doubt they’re counting on Gambit to cary that weight, and that means anyone signing on for the role is entering into a huge, multi-picture commitment. Jackman’s been strapping on the claws for more than 15 years now, and while he openly praises Wolverine as the best role of his career, there’s no denying the immense amount of work and devotion it’s required.
If the new report is to be believed, it seems Tatum was engaging in a bit of public negotiation to resolve some issues regarding the extent of his involvement in Fox’s Marvel universe and his chunk of the backend. No doubt, any actor signing on for this kind of commitment will want to make sure that the deal is to their liking.
Are you happy to hear that Tatum is finally locked in for the role? Were you secretly hoping that Taylor Kitsch would pick up the staff once more? Do you like Gambit as the new star-player of the X-Men universe? Sound off in the comments.