‘X-Men’ Movie At Marvel Studios Gains Momentum As Michael Lesslie Comes On As Screenwriter

EXCLUSIVE: Following the success of its animated series X-Men ’97, Marvel Studios is now ramping things up on its live-action X-Men movie with Hunger Games: The Ballad Of Songbirds & Snakes scribe Michael Lesslie in negotiations to pen the movie. The film is still in early development with no talent or director attached and no release date set. Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige will produce.

As Deadline reported last fall, this project became one of the first major writing assignments to open up once the writers strike had been resolved. Feige and his execs made it clear there was no rush and have taken their time meeting with numerous candidates since then. Late last week, the decision was made to go with Lesslie. (Lesslie was mentioned in the InSneider Newsletter as a finalist.)

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Even with Lesslie officially boarding, it still will be some time before we get a movie in theaters as the film will now look to find a director to oversee the development with Feige and Lesslie.

All that said, the news that Marvel has started development on the live-action pic is sure to excite fans of the franchise who have been begging for a new movie since Disney’s acquisition of 20th Century Fox and its library in 2019. The X-Men universe was by far the most popular and profitable Marvel IP that Fox controlled with seven films and a successful Wolverine spinoff franchise that produced three more. After the disappointing release of Dark Phoenix in 2019, however, X-Men has been in need of a makeover.

This news also comes following the massive success of Marvel’s animated series X-Men ’97, which not only was a big ratings hit on Disney+ but also earned some of the best reviews for any Marvel property in years. Following the series’ recent season finale that earned glowing reviews, it is clear the property is still highly valuable to the studio now there are multiple X-Men-related projects — including the upcoming Deadpool & Wolverine — for fans to get excited about.

As for Lesslie, the veteran scribe is turning into the industry’s go-to scribe when a franchise is in need of a pick me up. This past fall he helped Lionsgate relaunch the Hunger Games franchise with Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. Next up is the long-awaited sequel in the Now You See Me franchise, which he also penned.

He is repped by Grandview, CAA, Sloane Offer and Cassarotto.

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