Jan 17, 2010

Tradecraft: Marc Forster Has Ludlum In His Sights

Having sucessfully derailed a Bond movie, director Marc Forster has acquired his next spy target: Robert Ludlum.  Variety reports that the Quantum of Solace director is now attached to direct Ludlum's The Chancellor Manuscript for Paramount.  The studio acquired the novel for $4 million dollars back in 2005, at the time with an eye for Martin Scorcese to direct and Leonardo Di Caprio to star.  According to the trade, Di Caprio remains attached.  The actor is also producing, along with Douglas Wick and Ludlum copyright holders Captivate Entertainment.  Writer Peter O'Brien (who's currently penning the story for Microsoft's latest Halo game) has been tapped to adapt the novel, following in the footsteps of previous scribes Michael Seitzman and Alessandro Camon. 

As Variety puts it, "the story centers on Peter Chancellor, who turns in a novel about D.C. power brokers who are blackmailed into altering U.S. policies. When some operatives get hold of the manuscript, they think he has uncovered their actual scheme and try to hunt the author down."

The trade also reminds us of other Ludlum properties in development: "In recent years, the late Ludlum's thrillers have proven irresistible to studios and big-name talent. Universal, the studio behind Ludlum's Bourne franchise, is developing The Sigma Protocol. And Tom Cruise, Denzel Washington and helmer David Cronenberg are attached to an adaptation of The Matarese Circle at MGM."  They don't even mention Ron Howard's involvement in The Parsifal Mosaic or the in-development (but recently set back) fourth Bourne film, both at Universal.  Or Simon Kinberg's Osterman Weekend remake at Summit.  I've said it before and I'll say it again: I love that Hollywood has finally discovered Robert Ludlum!  (There are more movies based on his books in development right now than were actually made in the author's lifetime.)  I'm most looking forward to The Matarese Circle, but I fear its fate might be tied in with that of troubled studio MGM.

So much do I want to see as many Robert Ludlum titles turned into movies as possible that I'll even see one directed by Marc Forster.  I'll give him the benefit of the doubt.  Pray that he learned his lessons of how not to make an action spy movie on Quantum of Solace.  Then again, I fear that he may think that's exactly how to make a Ludlum movie.  After all, he imported Bourne's Second Unit director, Dan Bradley, for his Bond film, and where he went most severely off track with 007 was in attempting to emulate the unique and finely honed action direction and editing that Paul Greengrass pioneered on the second and third Bourne movies, which is clearly not as easy as it looks...

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