Vin Diesel and Rob Cohen have dropped out of another franchise; they're now the ex-star and ex-director of the ''XXX'' sequel. The pair, who similarly bolted from the ''Fast and the Furious'' franchise, will be replaced by Ice Cube and ''Die Another Day'' helmer Lee Tamahori. Diesel and Cohen will retain producer credits, however, on ''XXX 2,'' according to the Hollywood Reporter.
Variety reports that Diesel, who recently shot ''Pitch Black'' sequel ''The Chronicles of Riddick,'' didn't want to shoot two sequels back-to-back. There are no hard feelings, though, between ''XXX'''s Revolution Studios and Diesel, since they're developing two more projects together. Diesel's next movie will be Revolution's historical epic ''Hannibal,'' written by ''Gladiator'' scribe David Franzoni, in which Diesel will play the elephant-riding Carthaginian leader who attacked ancient Rome. Cohen's next film is ''Stealth,'' for Revolution distribution partner Sony.
In ''XXX 2,'' which will shoot next summer for a 2005 release, Ice Cube will play another outlaw who, like Diesel's character in the first film, is given a choice between jail and spying for his country. Variety reports that the film will take place primarily in Washington, D.C., and it will feature less extreme sports action and more thriller elements. Sounds like ''XXX 2,'' with an 007 director at the helm, will be more like the traditional kind of Bondian spy flick that ''XXX'' thumbed its nose at.