Jun 3, 2008

Tradecraft For June 3, 2008

More Ludlum Multiplex-Bound

In my opinion, you can never have too many movies based on Robert Ludlum books! For years, fans had to make do with nothing but an occasional TV miniseries, but finally, after the success of the Jason Bourne franchise (which, ironically, eschews most of the books' plots), Hollywood has recognized the potential goldmine in Robert Ludlum's back catalog.

Following hot on the heels of MGM's $3 million acquisition of Ludlum's 1979 thriller The Matarese Circle to star Denzel Washington, Variety reports that Universal has fast-tracked an adaptation of The Sigma Protocol. Both Variety and The Hollywood Reporter describe The Sigma Protocol as the last novel Ludlum penned before his death, but with so many posthumous publications and ghost writers, I don't know how they can really be sure.

The Reporter describes Sigma as centering on "an American economist who becomes the target of professional assassins. When a U.S. intelligence agent investigating his case finds herself discredited, the two end up on the run and uncover a multinational conspiracy manipulating the global economy and world events." After several discarded attempts by other writers, Iron Man co-writers Art Marcum and Matt Holloway have signed on to write the adaptation. They will start from scratch after reportedly pitching a fresh take on the material. Strike Entertainment's Marc Abraham and Eric Newman will produce the film with Paul L. Sandberg. According to Variety, Universal picked up the rights in 2002, prior to The Bourne Identity, and has been working on it ever since.

In other Ludlum news, the trade also asserts that Universal is "laying the groundwork for a fourth 'Bourne' pic, with Paul Greengrass directing and Matt Damon starring."

"The success of the Bourne franchise," they state, "has turned the late author into a revenue machine. Ludlum's The Chancellor Manuscript was sold to Paramount in 2005 for $4 million ... as a star vehicle for Leonardo DiCaprio."

Transporter 3 This Thanksgiving

According to Variety, Lionsgate has nabbed the rights to the next installment in the Jason Statham Transporter series. Fox released the first two films. To me, the wildly entertaining Transporter movies (along with lesser fare like Hitman) are the modern day equivalent of the Sixties Eurospy phenomenon, and the third entry sounds like nothing less. Says the trade, "Principal photography in France and Russia wrapped in early May, and the movie is in post-production. Helmed by Olivier Megaton (The Red Siren), pic was scripted by Luc Besson and Robert Mark Kamen." Exotic Euro locations, Euro crew, commanding international star... As long as they've got another sexy babe on board, they'll have hit all the key items on the Eurospy checklist! Lionsgate plans a Thanksgiving release, and I can't wait!

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