Matthew Vaughn is directing Fox prequel for studio

Twentieth Century Fox’s prequel “X-Men: First Class” is set to go.

With Matthew Vaughn now on board to direct, studio has dated the pic for release on June 3, 2011.

Moving aggressively, Fox says production will begin this summer, although a cast hasn’t yet been announced.

Bryan Singer, who conceived the story for “First Class” and directed the first two “X-Men” pics, is producing with Lauren Shuler Donner and Simon Kinberg.

“I’ve been a fan of Matthew’s since ‘Layer Cake,” said Singer. “He has a deft hand with multiple characters and storylines, and a great love of the X-Men universe. I feel the combination of this story and his vision will make for an exciting and original X-Men film.”

All told, the first four “X-Men” films grossed a combined $1.53 billion at the worldwide box office. Franchise is based on the Marvel Comics series.

“First Class” chronicles the beginning of the X-Men saga, before Charles Xavier and Erik Lensherr took the names Professor X and Magneto and when they were discovering their powers for the first time. Close friends then, the two men worked with other mutants (some familiar, some new) to stop a global threat. In the process, a rift between them opened, which began the eternal war between Magneto’s Brotherhood and Professor X’s X-Men.

“‘X-Men: First Class’ presents an exciting opportunity to further explore the history and relationships of these beloved characters. Matthew’s combination of talent, verve and vision is perfectly suited to the task,” Fox prexy of production Emma Watts said.

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