Just as things were finally coming together for the Channing Tatum starring vehicle Gambit, Rupert Wyatt walked out on the film. The news broke not long after Tatum officially signed on to play the title character – after nearly walking out on it himself – with Lea Seydoux (Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol, Spectre) signing on to play the female lead Belladonna.
Wyatt said that he couldn’t commit to the project due to scheduling conflicts but wished the team well. That sort of answer is something you always hear when it comes to news like this. Of course it goes much deeper than that, and now it is being reported that creative differences are what drove Wyatt away from the film. More on the story below.
According to THR, Wyatt was fully committed to staying on the project. In fact Fox never once believed they had another Josh Trank Fantastic Four situation on their hands; Wyatt was the first to be in, last to leave, and has good ideas. But as the site points out, he wanted to rewrite Gambit in order “to conceive the world that he is filming.” Josh Zetumer (RoboCop) wrote the script based on a treatment written by Chris Claremont. But when it comes to $100 million projects, studios have some of their own ideas. As do some of the big name stars (in this case Tatum), who are becoming as influential as their producer counter parts (in this case Simon Kinberg). With so many people having their own vision for the film, there is bound to be some headbutting.
And that appears to be what happened on Gambit. It is said that Wyatt was unable to convince the studio of his vision for, and therefore walked out on the film entirely. Which is something of a reputation he has built for himself in the past. The director was tapped to helm Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (Fox), The Equalizer (Sony), and a “project based on the life and death of Alexander Litvinenko, a defector from the Russian secret service who was poisoned in London” for Warner Bros. He walked out of all three of them for the exact same reasons he is leaving Gambit.
A top exec told THR that Wyatt wasn’t a “tortured guy” and one who has a “gentle soul” and is “a very principled guy.” The director seems to be one of a handful of filmmakers who will not be controlled by a studio and a creative committee. The exec then went on to say:
“He wants to make the best version of something, and he’s so desperately afraid of making something not good that it’s easier to walk away than be pushed by committee.”
This is something of a common recurrence with studios and their superhero shared universes. Again, this is not something against Marvel Studios, Fox, or WB. They have successfully built a brand using their particular business model, and as the saying goes, if “it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” It doesn’t even have to happen for these superhero films, Nicolas Wining Refn was also attached to direct The Equalizer before it was even offered to Wyatt.
Wyatt’s agent had this to say about the relationship between directors and the big budget studios that release tentpole films:
“It’s not necessarily acrimonious. The studios, with these big movies, have very specific visions of what they want. They don’t necessarily want an auteur who’s going to try to reinvent the franchise. Of course the studios would love it if a director did what they want, when they want, but it doesn’t always work out.”
So what are your thoughts on directors like Rupert Wyatt walking out on big budget films like Gambit?