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Bryan Singer will produce, but not direct, “X-Men” prequel

Bryan Singer’s reunion with his mighty mutant superheroes isn’t meant to be.

While the director of the first two “X-Men” adaptations was set to return to the franchise for 20th Century Fox’s “X-Men: First Class,” circumstances have led to Singer departing the project’s director’s chair but staying on as a producer.

Deadline’s Mike Fleming reports that Singer’s previous commitment to Warner and Legendary’s “Jack the Giant Killer” will prevent him from helming the new “X-Men” installment. The “Giant” production is locked into a summer start date, with an eye on a 2011 release date.

There’s good news for “X-Men” fans, however. Fox is unwilling to wait for Singer because, according to Fleming, they are so enthused at screenwriter Jamie Moss’s treatment of Singer’s story idea that they want to begin pre-production as soon as possible. Fox also would like to get “X-Men” into theaters in 2011.

No word on who will replace Singer in the director’s chair, though Fleming does describe the story as an origin tale which focuses on the early days of Magneto and Professor Xavier, and could be envisioned as the first leg of a mutant trilogy.

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