After a series of creative differences between Deadpool director Tim Miller and star Ryan Reynolds, Miller has exited Deadpool 2.

He hadn’t formally signed a deal to continue, but he was developing the script and by all accounts had planned to return behind the camera for a film Fox will release in 2018.

I’ve confirmed from studio insiders this exit was over mutual creative differences, but this all ended amicably and the studio is very high on Miller and the expectation is the filmmaker will jump right into another big Fox project: Influx, an adaptation of the Daniel Suarez novel that has a Mark Bomback script and is expected to launch a film trilogy.

This will come as a blow to fans of the original film, an audacious franchise launch that came out of nowhere to become one of the biggest movie success stories in recent years, and another major franchise for Emma Watts’ division at Fox. And everyone had a hand in shaping its unusual tone. That includes Miller — a VFX wiz hired to make his directorial debut on the project way back in 2011 — to writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, and Reynolds, who first played ‘The Merc With A Mouth’ in the widely panned X-Men Origins: Wolverine (they sewed shut his mouth so he couldn’t speak) and lobbied hard for another chance on a movie that really captured the inherent fun in the comic book.
Much the way that Robert Downey Jr proved to be the perfect guy to play Tony Stark/Iron Man, Reynolds proved a glove fit for the scarred wisecracking, indestructible Deadpool. When these creative differences come up between actor and director, it is often the former that exits. But much the way it is with a handful of other franchises — Tom Cruise on Mission: Impossible, Hugh Jackman on Wolverine, Matt Damon on Bourne Identity or Downey on Iron Man — the star has the greatest influence. And here, Reynolds is also an active producer, along with Simon Kinberg and Lauren Shuler Donner. They made the best of the situation as Miller removed himself from the fray and the studio turned him loose on creating another world with Influx.

Deadpool revived Reynolds’ career, and he was key to much of the clever and humorous marketing and promotion that paved the way for an initially unheralded film that got green lit after Miller leaked CGI test footage in 2014 that sparked the fanboy fuse, and rose to unprecedented levels of financial success. The picture grossed $782 million worldwide on a $58 million budget and broke many box office records, including highest grossing R-rated film ever, as well as the biggest grossing X-Men film. The key was its black humor and a hard R-rated tone that was the equivalent of anarchy and made most other superhero movies seem cookie cutter by comparison.

Miller’s exit just happened late Friday. Fox, which last week unveiled the first footage of Logan — which marks the final turn by Hugh Jackman as the stalwart X-Men star Wolverine — will be plenty busy making sure one of its most valuable franchises stays on track.

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