Director Rupert Wyatt says that the failure of 2015's Fantastic Four led to 20th Century Fox drastically cutting the budget for his and star/producer Channing Tatum's Gambit.
"I was very close with Channing Tatum and his producing partner Reid Carolin, and I was on the script with him and Josh Zetumer as a writer. We were close, I believe 10 weeks away. It simply came down to budget. There was not enough," Wyatt told The Beat. "You know all too well about the politics of the business. Fantastic Four had been released by Fox a month before and had not gone well for them, so our budget was slashed quite considerably. The inevitable, from my perspective was, ‘Well then we need to rewrite the script to tailor to our budget,’ but we were too close to a start date for Fox to really want to go there, so unfortunately, it just didn’t work out."
Fantastic Four earned $167 million at the box office worldwide, with a $155m production budget.
At the time of Fantastic Four's release on August 7, 2015, Gambit was scheduled to debut October 7, 2016. Wyatt was already on-board as director, and Lea Seydoux had been hired to play Bella Donna Boudreaux. A month after FF's release, Wyatt confirmed he was leaving the project due to what, at the time, he framed as "scheduling conflicts."
"All I know is Channing had a really, really wonderful idea for what that film could and should be," continued Wyatt. "I know he and Reid are still plugging away at it, so I hope in the new Disney era, that then they get to make it."
Since Wyatt's departure, two other directors (Doug Liman, Gore Verbinski) had been announced for Gambit but also left.