Mar 2, 2010

Tradecraft: Matarese Circle Faces Shaky Future

I've speculated in recent posts that one of the upcoming spy movies I'm personally most looking forward to may be in trouble.  A recent article in the Los Angeles Times would seem to confirm those fears.  As has been frequently covered here since the initial bidding war almost two years ago, MGM was set to adapt one of Robert Ludlum's best novels, The Matarese Circle, with David Cronenberg directing and Denzel Washington and Tom Cruise starring.  According to the Times, that's all up in the air now thanks to MGM's very public financial woes. 
[Mary] Parent, a former top executive at Universal Pictures, had originally planned to make a full slate of movies at MGM that would include big-budget sequels to James Bond, adaptations of  "The Hobbit" and a spy thriller adapted from Robert Ludlum's suspense novel "The Matarese Circle." But, those plans were dashed when MGM ran into a financial wall shortly after her arrival.
So what does "dashed" mean?  That's unclear.  Perhaps if MGM gets bought by another studio like Warner Bros. or Lions Gate (both of whom have shown interest), the project could still be revived.  Or perhaps "dashed" is totally dead.  I really hope not.  And if that is the case, I hope another studio picks it up and somehow manages to keep Cronenberg attached.  (Such an interesting choice for Ludlum material–and after Eastern Promises I firmly believe he's ideal for it.)  The Matarese Circle is one of Ludlum's very best (along with The Bourne Identity and The Parsifal Mosaic, which is currently in development at Universal), and would make a great film! 
As for MGM's dreary outlook, the article concludes:
Apart from an outright sale, there's a chance MGM could remain independent if the company can restructure its $3.7-billion debt and secure new capital. But many expect the studio will be acquired by another media company and exist as a label for new productions of James Bond and other movie properties culled from its library.

Analysts say that in a worse case scenario, MGM would wind up filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and be sold off in pieces.

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