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Brett Ratner will direct ''X-Men 3''

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The mutant movie is back on track. Less than a week after Matthew Vaughn suddenly bolted from the director’s chair of the soon-to-shoot X-Men 3, Twentieth Century Fox has found a new helmer to guide the film for its scheduled August shoot. Variety has confirmed the rumors circulating last week that the new X-director is Brett Ratner, who has now effectively switched places with Bryan Singer, the director of the first two X-Men movies.

Ratner, of course, spent a year developing the long-awaited resurrection of the Superman franchise for Warner Bros. before leaving the project over creative differences with the studio. Taking his place was Singer, who surprised Fox by abandoning the franchise he’d helped build in favor of a higher-profile hero. He’s currently shooting Superman Returns with a new script. Meanwhile, Fox hired Vaughn (Layer Cake) to replace Singer, but the London-based director quit last week when he realized a lengthy North American shoot would mean uprooting his family. (He and wife Claudia Schiffer have two young children.) To add to the game of musical director’s chairs, Ratner had signed on with New Line to direct his third Rush Hour installment, but he suddenly had an opening in his schedule after talks with Chris Tucker to reprise his role fell through. So now he’s taken on Singer’s old project, while Singer has taken his.

Ratner will be working from a screenplay by Simon Kinberg (Mr. and Mrs. Smith ) and Zak Penn that includes roles for newcomers Kelsey Grammer (Beast), Vinnie Jones (Juggernaut), and the now-confirmed Maggie Grace of Lost as Kitty ”Shadowcat” Pryde. X-Men 3 is said to reunite all the stars of the first two films, including Hugh Jackman, Halle Berry, Patrick Stewart, Ian McKellen, and Famke Janssen. Even James Marsden (Cyclops) may be back. He followed Singer to Superman Returns, where he has a supporting role, but he’s expressed interest in recent weeks in returning to play Cyclops, and his duties on the Superman set may be finished in time for the August X-Men 3 shoot. Fox plans to open the third X-movie on Memorial Day weekend of 2006.

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