According to Variety, Zak Penn, who with Simon Kinberg has scripted X-Men 3, has been staked by the studio to a two-year first-look deal to write, produce and direct.

Penn has a long history with Fox. A credited writer on the Fox films "PCU," Behind Enemy Lines, X2: X-Men United and Elektra, Penn had a previous deal with the studio that he let lapse when he directed the improvisational film Incident at Loch Ness.

Aside from polishing X3 with Kinberg before director Brett Ratner begins production, Penn is producing the Fox pic Clan of the 7th Circle, a kid fantasy pic that Michael Karnow will write. Penn is also expected to develop a film at the studio to direct, possibly a spinoff of the X-Men franchise.

The studio is already prepping two of those, the David Benioff-scripted Wolverine and an origin story about the villain Magneto that Sheldon Turner is writing. Penn's would be a new pic.

"For some reason, I have always found myself back at Fox, and many of the projects I've been involved in have gotten made," Penn said. "They have always supported me and been supportive of my aspirations as a director."

Penn's separately developing to direct The Grand, another improvisational comic film, this time set in the world of high-stakes poker. He expects to shoot the pic before the year is out.