EXCLUSIVE: James Mangold is 20th Century Fox’s and star Hugh Jackman’s choice to direct The Wolverine, ending one of the most competitive contests among directors for a major studio film. Negotiations are about to get underway, but I’m told that Mangold will take the helming job on the sequel to the X-Men spinoff film, a post that became vacant when Darren Aronofsky dropped out of the film in March. I’d heard that Mangold was on a very short list coming into this week, along with Warrior director Gavin O’Connor and Brooklyn’s Finest helmer Antoine Fuqua. I’ve heard that Fox will look to start principal photography in the fall. Scripted by Christopher McQuarrie, The Wolverine takes place mostly in Japan. Mangold most recently directed the Tom Cruise-Cameron Diaz starrer Knight and Day for Fox, and before that 3:10 to Yuma and Walk the Line. Mangold’s repped by WME and Management 360.