'Rush Hour' Director Ratner To Helm 'X3'

Ratner is the third director attached to project.

In Hollywood, what comes around, goes around.

More than five years after he was on the short list to direct the original "X-Men" movie, "Rush Hour" director Brett Ratner has been tapped to fill the sudden vacancy atop "X3."

Ratner is the third director attached to the third film in the "X-Men" franchise, and he'll replace "Layer Cake" director Matthew Vaughn, who dropped out last week citing "family issues," according to Variety magazine.

The hiring of Ratner keeps the movie on target for beginning production in August and opening Memorial Day, 2006.

Ratner, an avowed comic fan, was considered for the original film in the series, which came out in 2000, but was passed over in favor of Bryan Singer ("The Usual Suspects"). Ratner then spent a year developing "Superman Returns" before leaving the project — and being replaced by Singer, who then dropped out of "X3."

When Vaughn left the film last week, the director said it was due to his unwillingness to uproot his family from England for the year of production in Los Angles and Canada that the sci-fi flick would require. But Variety reported that the anxiety over jumping to such a big-budget picture after just one directing gig (the low-budget heist flick "Cake") might have contributed to his change of heart.

The good news for "X" fans might be bad news for Chris Tucker enthusiasts. It appears that Ratner's new gig will push back the start date of "Rush Hour 3," which was supposed to start shooting in the fall and hit screens next summer. Ratner directed the first two installments of the Tucker/ Jackie Chan buddy comedy.

In addition to Ratner, the "X3" mutant pool has also gotten a new member: Maggie Grace of TV's "Lost" will join the cast as a mutant. She joins fellow newbies Kelsey Grammer ("Frasier") as Beast and former British soccer player Vinnie Jones as Juggernaut.

Relive everything big, bad, hairy and awesome from the last 365 days in film when the 2005 MTV Movie Awards air Thursday, June 9 at 8:30 p.m. The action kicks off a half an hour earlier with MTV News' pre-show when the red carpet action, celebrity interviews and surprises begin at 8 p.m.

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Relive everything big, bad, hairy and awesome from the last 365 days in film when the 2005 MTV Movie Awards air Thursday, June 9 at 8:30 p.m. The action kicks off a half an hour earlier with MTV News' pre-show when the red carpet action, celebrity interviews and surprises begin at 8 p.m.

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