HOLLYWOOD, CA - APRIL 23: Actor Chris Pratt attends the Los Angeles Global Premiere for Marvel Studios’ Avengers: Infinity War on April 23, 2018 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Disney)

Chris Pratt will be leading a team into battle next year, but it won’t be the Guardians of the Galaxy. The actor is set to star in a new action thriller written and directed by Taylor Sheridan (Wind River). It could be a new franchise vehicle for Pratt, who needed to replace his currently-stalled Marvel gig.

Variety reports that Pratt became available for Sheridan’s film thanks to the indefinite delays of both Cowboy Ninja Viking, which was supposed to be shooting late this year, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. The third Guardians film was scheduled to start production early next year but has been delayed while Marvel Studios tries to replace director James Gunn, whom Disney fired in July.

Pratt will play the leader of a black ops team charged with taking down drug dealers who are protected by the CIA in Sheridan’s film. Warner Bros. is the studio behind the movie, which carries a $70M-$80M budget. Sheridan also wrote Sicario and its sequel, Day of the Soldado, so the franchise potential of this new project is very real.

Depending on when production begins and ends on Sheridan’s movie, this could impact Marvel Studios’ ability to get Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 going again once a new director is found. There was probably little chance of the movie starting production in the first half of 2019 anyway, but this news could seal it.

Last week, Marvel Studios dropped one of their three 2020 release dates from the calendar. While Marvel still has the May 1, 2020 release date that was intended for GotG Vol. 3, another film is likely being moved up to take its place. My money is on Black Widow, but The Eternals and Doctor Strange 2 are also contenders.

Pratt’s new job highlights the full impact of Guardians‘ indefinite hold and the challenge of getting the band back together when Marvel is finally ready. All of the actors are under contract to return, but Marvel can’t lay claim to everyone’s calendar while the studio figures out what to do with the film.

Until a new director is hired and there are at least potential production dates, the Guardians cast is free to do as Pratt has done and book other gigs. Once Marvel Studios is ready to put GotG Vol. 3 back on an actual schedule, they may have to wait even longer for the stars to finish up the jobs they took during the delay.

SOURCE: Variety