Never underestimate the appetites of the general public for badly written, dull mystery movies: despite the disappointing US gross of Sony's "Angels & Demons," the film made close to half a billion dollars worldwide, continuing the success that the studio had with the first film based on author Dan Brown's Robert Langdon series, "The Da Vinci Code," back in 2006. With Brown's third novel featuring the character, "The Lost Symbol," becoming the fastest-selling adult novel of all time on its release last year, Sony swiftly moved ahead on an adaptation of that too.
The plot sees Langdon in the States for the first time, arriving in Washington and becoming embroiled in a hunt for his kidnapped best friend, the head of the Smithsonian Institute and a senior Freemason. Oscar-nominated "Eastern Promises" scribe Steven Knight was originally appointed to pen the script, but The Hollywood Reporter now has news that he's been replaced... by Brown himself.
The novelist will make his screenwriting debut on a rewrite of the project; it's unclear whether this is the author throwing his weight around, or whether it's simply that no-one else could make head or tail of the plot. The trade suggests that Sony are hoping to have the film in theaters by the summer of 2013, which would appear to rule out Ron Howard, who directed the first two films, as Universal have set the Howard-helmed adaptation of Stephen King's "The Dark Tower" for a May 17, 2013 release.
Howard will, however, produce, alongside Brian Grazer for their Imagine Entertainment shingle. Tom Hanks is expected, but not signed, to return as Langdon -- although again, we're not sure when he'll fit this in, considering he's committed to film Kathryn Bigelow's "Triple Frontier" in late 2012. On one hand, by not being penned by Playlist bete noire Akiva Goldsman, this could turn out to be the best of the trilogy, but we're not sure we have a great deal of faith in Brown's writing abilities, and the third film's Washington setting seems to lose some of the globetrotting novelty of the first two, moving closer to "National Treasure" territory than anything else. But with half a billion dollars at stake, it's not like we could stop it from happening if we wanted to....