Following the announcement that Bryan Singer has signed on to direct the long-gestating Freddie Mercury biopic, you might have wondered when the filmmaker would find the time to helm the next chapter in the X-Men franchise. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Singer won't be back to direct the sequel to X-Men Apocalypse and a "soft reboot" could be on the cards.

The reasoning behind the potential franchise reconfiguration is a tad more complicated than the departure of a director. Since First Class, Jennifer Lawrence, Michael Fassbender, and James McAvoy have become bonafide movie stars and command a hefty paycheck. Now that they have completed their three-picture obligations, new deals would need to be struck with the primary cast and that could prove to be too expensive for 20th Century Fox. 

Writer and producer Simon Kinberg is tentatively drafting a script that includes the trio, but it remains unclear if the actors would be open to the idea of returning. Apocalypse handily introduced younger versions of Jean Grey, Storm, Cyclops, and Nightcrawler, so Fox has an inbuilt set of characters they could shift the focus to for future sequels. Be that as it may, if Fox does decide to promote the youngsters, they'll have to find a way bring McAvoy's Xavier into the mix as it's not a proper X-Men movie without Professor X.

Should Kinberg be successful in tempting them back, it will cost 20th Century Fox a pretty penny and that in itself could be enough to trigger that "soft reboot." After the time-bending antics of Days of Future Past that delivered a new box office record for an X-Men movie, the follow-up (Apocalypse) was a disappointment and backward step for the aging franchise. 

The future of the wider X-Men world is currently in flux with Apocalypse underperforming at the box office and Hugh Jackman retiring from the role of Wolverine in next year's Logan. Add to that the recent troubles with the Deadpool sequel plus Gambit's inability to hold onto a director, and you can understand why Fox executives are a shade nervous.

The loss of Deadpool director Tim Miller and composer Junkie XL will be keenly felt, but Fox is already planning Deadpool 3 that will see The Merc With A Mouth team-up with X-Force. There is also the possibility that X-Force will eventually replace X-Men as the main franchise, but I doubt Fox will give up on PG-13 rated superhero movies entirely. 

Continuity throughout the X-Men films and spin-offs isn't exactly top notch, so we shouldn't rule out a complete reboot at some point, but for now Kinberg will try to find a way to keep the current iteration onboard.  

Logan is unleashed in cinemas on March 3, 2017