It has already been a little more than four years since the world last saw Vin Diesel come back to the world of extreme sports and global espionage with xXx: Return of Xander Cage. And even though the break isn’t nearly as long as the one between the 2017 action flick and the 2002 film that started it all for the wise-talking and the death-defying special agent, fans of the franchise the are probably wondering what’s the deal with xXx 4.

With everything that has gone on in Vin Diesel’s world since the January 2017 release of xXx: Return of Xander Cage including three appearances in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (with more on the way), Bloodshot, and the drama surrounding the release of F9 with its insane stunts, which is slated to drop in June, no one is going to hold anything against you if you’re not all caught up with xXx 4. That being said, there has been a lot of traction in regards to the film’s progress, and we’re about to break it down now…

Vin Diesel and Samuel L. Jackson in xXx: Return of Xander Cage

xXx 4 Has Been In The Works Since Before The Return Of Xander Cage Release

Back in January 2017, just days before the release of xXx: Return of Xander Cage, Vin Diesel let it slip in a Variety interview that Brad Grey, who at the time was CEO of Paramount Pictures, had called him asking if everybody would be down with coming back for xXx 4. Seems to make sense even though no one knew how the third xXx movie would play out (spoiler: it didn’t do too hot domestically, but made a ton of cash overseas), right?

What makes it even crazier is that the late Paramount head wasn’t talking about Xander Cage coming back for a third movie in the franchise like it was some hypothetical, he wanted Vin Diesel and company to return in May 2017. Tragically, Brad Grey died from cancer on May 14, 2017.

But this wasn't the end of xXx 4. In fact, it was only the beginning...

Ice Cube in xXx: State of the Union

xXx 3 Director D.J. Caruso Said The Fourth Film Would Follow Xander Cage’s Team Taking On Corrupt Governments

To the surprise of everyone, State of the Union’s Darius Stone (Ice Cube) came back for a quick cameo near the end of xXx: Return of Xander Cage to provide assistance to the xXx crew, telling them “they” would be coming for the team of fugitives. Around the time of the film’s release, director D.J. Caruso told CinemaBlend that this brief cameo was the start of something big for the franchise moving forward:

I think there’s a bigger ‘they’re’ at play that we talked about. We also talked about, particularly with the political climate as it is now, not that we’re such a hugely political movie, but Sam [Jackson] talks about how we need someone to watch the watchers… So that’s kind of the idea with the next one. And then, if we can expand on that, what would the world leaders do if they know that these were the people watching the watchers?

Even though D.J. Caruso made it seem like the powers at be behind the xXx franchise knew where they wanted to take the series, he didn’t reveal if a script was being prepared or how much of it had been written.

Vin Diesel in xXx

In June 2017 A New Production Company Was Established In Hopes Of Producing xXx 4

The prospect of xXx 4 becoming a reality began to look better and better throughout 2017 with one of the biggest moments coming that June when The Hollywood Reporter announced the formation of The H Collective, a new production company launched by Joe Roth, Jeff Kirschenbaum, Mark Johnson, and Sid Ganis. Along with that announcement came the reveal that the newly formed company had four projects in the works, with the fourth installment in the xXx franchise being one of the top priorities.

And although The H Collective didn’t yet officially have the rights to producing xXx 4 or any future installments in the franchise, there was good news for the company in the months to come.

Vin Diesel in xXx: Return of Xander Cage

xXx 4 Was Finally Made Official In April 2018 With The H Collective Producing

In April 2018, xXx 4 was made official when it was announced that The H Collective and Vin Diesel’s own One Race Films (I wonder if they take their productions one quarter-mile at a time) had secured the rights to the xXx franchise from Revolution Studios, the company behind the first three installments.

The hits just kept coming with this major announcement as not only was Vin Diesel confirmed to be returning to one of his most badass characters with a history of logic-defying stunts, but xXx: Return of Xander Cager director D.J. Caruso was officially coming back as well. But that wasn’t all that was announced in the spring of 2018 as the production company also revealed that cameras could start rolling as early as that December.

It wasn’t revealed at the time who else would be joining Vin Diesel’s Xander Cage on his next globe-trotting adventure, though that would change in the following months as the xXx 4 cast started to fill out.

Jay Chou and Seth Rogen in The Green Hornet

Jay Chou And Zoe Zhang Were Officially Added To The xXx 4 Cast In November 2018

In November 2018, Deadline announced that Jay Chou, the Taiwanese singer and actor who made his Hollywood film debut and became one of the best things about The Green Hornet, had joined the cast of xXx 4 though his specific role was not disclosed at the time. At the same time, Chinese actress Zoe Zhang was also revealed to be joining the cast for the fourth installment in the franchise, but no information on her exact role was provided at the time.

One of the biggest developments from the Deadline report was the reveal that production on xXx 4 would be starting at some point in 2019 as opposed to the previously mentioned December 2018 start date. But as we would come to see in the coming months and even years, the movie’s pre-production woes would only continue.

Vin Diesel in xXx: Return of Xander Cage

Vin Diesel Said He Was Ready To Start Filming Various Projects, Including xXx 4 In November 2019

Months after turning to Instagram to ask his fans who should join the xXx franchise, Vin Diesel (who is actually one of the most active celebrities on social media) took to the image-sharing platform again to tell the world he was ready to pick up with some of his long-in-the-works projects, including xXx 4 in addition to others like The Chronicles of Riddick, Guardians of the Galaxy, and other franchises not revolving around Dominic Toretto or Xander Cage. And although Diesel said he was taking a “minute to center,” we all know you can’t keep a man like that down for long.

But this wasn’t the only tease we received from Vin Diesel surrounding his upcoming projects, especially xXx 4 as the actor would stoke the fire even more just one month later…

Vin Diesel and Deepika Padukone in xXx: Return of Xander Cage

Vin Diesel Made An Instagram Post In December 2019 With Hashtags For xXx 3 Actors And XanderCage4

Follow Vin Diesel on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, or any other social media platform long enough and you’ll see some pretty out there images but also great information that doesn’t always make the news. Both can be said about a December 2019 Instagram post from Diesel in which he shared a touched-up image of himself in Xander Cage’s iconic fur coat that also included some key information about the future of the xXx franchise.

In the post’s caption, Vin Diesel said he had a Xander Cage meeting among other things with hashtags for Ruby Rose, Nina Dobrev, and Deepika Padukone, all three of which had major roles in xXx: Return of Xander Cage, as well as a tag reading “XanderCage4.” That seems to point out the project was very much in the works at the end of 2019.

Things looked on the up and up for xXx 4 and Vin Diesel in general with Bloodshot and F9 right around the corner. But we all know what happened in 2020…

Vin Diesel in xXx

XXX 4 Became Involved In An October 2020 Lawsuit

The xXx 4 situation took a turn in October 2020 when Weying Galaxy, the Chinese ticketing vendor that entered a joint venture with The H Collective to secure the rights for the franchise a few years earlier, filed a lawsuit against the production company due to a number of alleged irregularities.

Shortly after the lawsuit was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, The Hollywood Reporter published a report breaking down the entire situation. Basically, Weying Galaxy contributed $6 million into a joint venture (Xtreme Pictures) that would have given the shared company 100% of the derivative rights to the franchise, essentially allowing for xXx 4 and any future installments to be under its control. Only after Weying made the contribution did it discover that The H Collective failed to reach its side of the bargain and that Vin Diesel still had control of 50% of those rights.

The legal drama surrounding the joint venture has yet to be resolved, making it hard to say what exactly will happen with xXx 4 or any other future installments in the franchise moving forward. The matter was only made more confusing later in October 2020 when Xtreme released an oddly-worded press release stating it had acquired the franchise.

It is hard to say exactly where xXx 4 stands and when the world will get to see it, but check out CinemaBlend's 2021 New Movie Release Guide for all the latest on when we'll be able to see Vin Diesel again.

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