Feb 21, 2013

Tradecraft: Universal Chairman on the Future of Bourne

Universal Pictures chairman Adam Fogelson gave an interview to The Hollywood Reporter (via Dark Horizons) in which the trade asked him about the future of the Bourne franchise. After three successful movies starring Matt Damon as Robert Ludlum's amnesiac assassin Jason Bourne, the series went a different direction in its third entry last summer, The Bourne Legacy (review here). Jeremy Renner took over as the star, but not in the same role. Instead he played Aaron Cross, another graduate of the secretive Treadstone program (more or less, anyway), which created Bourne. The result was, in my opinion, unsatisfying, and also less successful at the box office than Damon's last entry, the superb Bourne Ultimatum (review here). But Damon and his Ultimatum director Paul Greengrass have been reluctant to return, though neither rules it out. So where does that leave the franchise at the studio? Here's the question and Fogelson's answer.
THR: Last summer's Bourne Legacy grossed $276.1 million worldwide without Matt Damon -- good, not great. What's your plan for the Bourne property?

Fogelson: The point of the last movie was to create a universe, a world and characters that give us a lot of freedom and flexibility in how we go forward. Yeah, the movie didn't perform the way the last one did. It also didn't cost what the last one did. It performed more along the lines of how the first one did. I absolutely see us doing more Bourne, 100 percent yes. Matt has talked about the possibility of coming back, and we totally respect that and are excited if and when he wants to have conversations. But I think the last movie gave us a big bunch of options to pursue a next chapter.
I've said before and I still maintain that the key to this franchise's future is going back to Ludlum's books. The Bourne Supremacy is an excellent novel (review here), and the filmmakers barely used any of its plot in their movie of that name. So look to Ludlum for a plot (it would have to be updated, but could still totally work), and give it a new title. Or go all the way back to the first book, The Bourne Identity (review here). The movie used its basic premise quite well, but left huge swathes of valuable, usable plot untouched.


Simes said...

They need to call time on the Bourne franchise.

Sorry, but they really do.

Regardless of whether it's Renner or Damon.

Tanner said...

Have you read the books? Would you really not like to see faithful adaptations of the first two? I think that's the way to go.

Christopher said...

Damon's had a string of flops. In part, I think, to be the guy's ability to come off as a pompous ass (Remember, not only did he take pot shots at "The Bourne Legacy," he took aim at James Bond as well). That said, Bourne is Damon's best way to reconnect with his audience. He'll be game.

Also, I haven't read much of Ludlum (your reviews will change that), however I suspect there is a belief that Ludlum's material is "you're dad's paperbacks," i.e., potboilers from a different age. If you say they're ripe with good movie material I believe you.

Simes said...

I have read a couple of the books, as it happens. I suppose if they were to do any more then adapting those would indeed be the approach to take.

I suspect any adaptation wouldn't be that faithful, but there we go.

As Christopher says, Damon hasn't had much luck in recent times, which is why he's suddenly so keen on returning to the Bourne 'franchise' (and how I hate that term..!)

My problem is that these films are in danger - in the wrong hands - of turning into a franchise sausage factory. What happened to originality?

As I say, I'd rather they left it alone now. But fat chance...