‘X-Men 3′ Looking For Director #3

Matthew Vaughn, Bryan Singer both bailed on the film.

Perhaps the third time will be a charm for “X-Men 3.”

With the exit of Matthew Vaughn (“Layer Cake”), the superhero sequel has lost its second director, this time just months before production was to begin, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Citing personal reasons, Vaughn has split from his first major studio gig, with Fox denying that the departure had anything to do with creative differences or the pressure of overseeing the big-budget actioner.

The director, who had arranged to commute between the Vancouver set and his home in London during the movie’s year-long cycle, said he realized that he didn’t want to move his family to Los Angeles and Vancouver for that long a period.

Vaughn produced the Guy Ritchie crime capers “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels” and “Snatch” and recently debuted as a director with the $7 million gangster drama “Layer Cake.” It has grossed just under $730,000 in the U.S. in two-and-a-half weeks of limited release.

“We understand Matthew’s reasons for leaving, as nothing is more important than family,” Fox president Hutch Parker said. “Luckily, we have a fantastic script, the original cast is returning, and there will be some great new characters. We will decide shortly among several directors who are keenly interested in the project and are fully committed to remaining right on schedule.”

Bryan Singer, who directed the first two “X-Men” movies, was expected to return for the third outing, but dropped out to work on “Superman Returns.”

The cast of “X3″ is slated to include new cast members Kelsey Grammer (“Frasier”) as Beast and former British soccer player Vinnie Jones (“Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels”) as Juggernaut (see ” ‘X-Men 3′ Casting News: Soccer Star, Sure … But Frasier Crane?” ). The movie is scheduled to begin production on August 2 for a Memorial Day (May 26) 2006 release.

To date, Patrick Stewart (Professor Charles Xavier), Shawn Ashmore (Iceman), Daniel Cudmore (Colossus), Alan Cumming (Nightcrawler) and Famke Janssen (Dr. Jean Grey) are expected to appear in the film. The Hollywood Reporter story also has Hugh Jackman returning as Wolverine and Halle Berry reprising her role as Storm.

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