Several months before 'X-Men: The Last Stand' went into production, Matthew Vaughn ('Stardust', 'Thor') was hired to direct the film. A short time later he exited the movie. The publicly stated reasons: he was uncomfortable spending so much time away from his family.
An interview in today's Telegraph confirms what many suspected: the family story was just a cover story and Vaughn bailed because the Fox was more interested in making a release date than they were in making a good movie:
...Vaughn can't help savouring the satisfaction of knowing he did the right thing when he risked his career by walking out on the Ł100 million X-Men 3: The Last Stand after he had been hired by Fox to take over the lucrative franchise.
He strongly denies he was overawed at the prospect of taking on such a financially heavy responsibility. "Big movie-making is a lot easier than small movie-making," he says. "All these big directors and producers would be struggling if you gave them a million dollars and told them to make a movie for that amount.
"What happened with X-Men was I didn't have the time to make the movie that I wanted to make. I had a vision for how it should be, and I wanted to make sure I was making a film as good as X-Men 2, and I knew there was no way it could be. I just suddenly knew it wasn't the right thing for me to do.
"It was a tough decision because it was a hell of an opportunity. But I was trying to make a career as a director, and I didn't want to be the guy accused of making a bad X-Men movie."
Brett Ratner stepped into the breach, and Vaughn was not impressed. "As it happens, I could have made something a hundred times better than the film that was eventually made," he says. "It sounds arrogant, but I could have done something with far more emotion and heart. I'm probably going to be told off for saying that, but I genuinely believe it."
Happily, Neil Gaiman, with whom he had worked on a short film, gave him the go-ahead for Stardust after Miramax, who owned the rights, could not see how to make it.
"The X-Men thing could have been a death knell," says Vaughan. "I had to be very, very careful because Hollywood could have said, 'Who does he think he is? He walked off a big movie.' So it was a scary time doing Stardust."