Aug 21, 2009

Tradecraft: The Gemini Bourne Contenders

According to The Hollywood Reporter, another writer has been hired to pen the next Jason Bourne movie: Hollywood's go-to spy guy, Josh Zetumer. Zetumer did uncredited rewrite work on the script for Quantum of Solace as well as penned the hot original spy script The Infiltrator, to which Leonardo DiCaprio is attached to star and for which Zetumer has credited The Bourne Identity as a major inspiration. I believe that at one point Zetumer was also in talks to adapt Ludlum's The Sigma Protocol for Universal, but I'm not sure if that happened. Either way, he seems to have cornered the market on spy writing assignments for the time being.

"But what about George Nolfi?" you ask. Wasn't the Bourne Ultimatum co-writer hired last year to concoct the amnesiac agent's fourth adventure? Indeed he was, and his version is still pending. But he's also writing and directing another Matt Damon movie, an adaptation of Phillip K. Dick's The Adjustment Bureau. That starts shooting next month, and apparently Nolfi has had to step away from his Bourne endeavors for the time being. "Not wishing to slow development and keen on making Bourne part of its 2011 slate," reports the trade, "Universal hired Zetumer to write a new script. It is unclear what will occur after Zetumer submits his draft or whether his script will be integrated with Nolfi's." So now, like Robert Ludlum's gemini contenders Andrew and Adrian Fontine, Nolfi and Zetumer will compete to see their visions realized as Jason Bourne's next adventure. "Our hope is that Nolfi, a key member of the Bourne team, will return after he is done with The Adjustment Bureau," a Universal spokesperson told The Hollywood Reporter, indicating that that the two scripts could in fact be melded together. Such a practice isn't unheard of in Hollywood, though the Reporter says it's unusual. They point out that Wolverine and Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer both began that way, but from a more positive perspective it should be noted that so did Spider-man 2. Of course, another possibility is that the studio could find themselves in the enviable position of having two excellent, ready-to-make Bourne scripts in their hands: the raw material for a fourth and fifth movie! Either way, it's clear that they're keen to proceed with another go-round, which is good news.

Star Matt Damon, meanwhile, recently told Entertainment Weekly that he's also eager to do another Bourne–as long as the writers come up with a fresh take. He said that audiences wouldn't stand for yet another movie's worth of his character not remembering who he was, and he's probably right. Ludlum abandoned the amnesia gimmick after his first Bourne novel. I've said it before and I'll say it again: if Universal is really so intent on making a good Bourne movie, they really need look no further than Ludlum's own Bourne sequels, whose titles they've already used, but whose plots remain un-mined!

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