Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
2015 Tribeca Film Festival Line-Up Announced: James Franco’s ‘Adderall Diaries,’ Olivia Wilde In ‘Meadowland’ & More 2015 Tribeca Film Festival Line-Up Announced: James Franco’s ‘Adderall Diaries,’ Olivia Wilde In ‘Meadowland’ & More First Look: Joseph Gordon-Levitt As Edward Snowden In Oliver Stone's 'Snowden' First Look: Joseph Gordon-Levitt As Edward Snowden In Oliver Stone's 'Snowden' Drew Goddard To Write And Direct Sony & Marvel's 'The Spectacular Spider-Man'; 'Sinister Six' Scrapped Drew Goddard To Write And Direct Sony & Marvel's 'The Spectacular Spider-Man'; 'Sinister Six' Scrapped Premature Oscar Predictions: The 2016 Best Picture Contenders Premature Oscar Predictions: The 2016 Best Picture Contenders Watch: Original Short Film Version Of 'Whiplash' Starring Oscar Winner J.K. Simmons Watch: Original Short Film Version Of 'Whiplash' Starring Oscar Winner J.K. Simmons Watch: Nifty Video Examines David Fincher’s Subtle Repetition Of Framing And Blocking In 'Gone Girl' Watch: Nifty Video Examines David Fincher’s Subtle Repetition Of Framing And Blocking In 'Gone Girl' Sigourney Weaver Says She'll Be Playing A New Character In The 'Avatar' Sequels Sigourney Weaver Says She'll Be Playing A New Character In The 'Avatar' Sequels Margot Robbie Says 'Suicide Squad' Is More 'The Dark Knight' Than 'Avengers'; David Ayer Says Joker Is "Majestic" Margot Robbie Says 'Suicide Squad' Is More 'The Dark Knight' Than 'Avengers'; David Ayer Says Joker Is "Majestic" Kristen Stewart Joins Kelly Reichardt’s Untitled Montana Drama With Michelle Williams & More Kristen Stewart Joins Kelly Reichardt’s Untitled Montana Drama With Michelle Williams & More Watch: Paul Thomas Anderson's Sophomore Short 'Cigarettes & Coffee' Watch: Paul Thomas Anderson's Sophomore Short 'Cigarettes & Coffee' Another Oscar? First Look At Eddie Redmayne In Tom Hooper's 'The Danish Girl' Another Oscar? First Look At Eddie Redmayne In Tom Hooper's 'The Danish Girl' 'Prisoners' & 'Enemy' Director Denis Villeneuve To Helm 'Blade Runner' Sequel, Harrison Ford Confirmed To Return 'Prisoners' & 'Enemy' Director Denis Villeneuve To Helm 'Blade Runner' Sequel, Harrison Ford Confirmed To Return The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far "I F*cked It Up": Neill Blomkamp Says He Wants To Go Back To 'Elysium' And "Do It Correctly" "I F*cked It Up": Neill Blomkamp Says He Wants To Go Back To 'Elysium' And "Do It Correctly" New Looks At Daniel Craig, Dave Bautista, And Lea Seydoux In 'Spectre' New Looks At Daniel Craig, Dave Bautista, And Lea Seydoux In 'Spectre' The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen The 25 Best Films Of 2015 We've Already Seen Best Of 2014: The 15 Best Movie Soundtracks Of 2014 Best Of 2014: The 15 Best Movie Soundtracks Of 2014 The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Horror Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season The 20 Best TV Shows Of The 2013/2014 Season From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki From Worst To Best: Ranking The Films Of Hayao Miyazaki

Universal Wants More Robert Ludlum, Hire John Hlavin To Pen 'The Janson Directive'

Photo of Kevin Jagernauth By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist October 28, 2011 at 2:25AM

Every few years, a hot new screenwriter comes along who makes studio execs forget that they hate hot new screenwriters. A Charlie Kaufman-type phenom will sometimes arise from such excitement, but more often than not, the love affairs ends with a “Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium” greenlight and subsequent parting of the ways.
0


Every few years, a hot new screenwriter comes along who makes studio execs forget that they hate hot new screenwriters. A Charlie Kaufman-type phenom will sometimes arise from such excitement, but more often than not, the love affairs ends with a “Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium” greenlight and subsequent parting of the ways.

Screenwriter John Hlavin has been slowly building towards his Zach Helm moment, writing the next “Underworld” sequel, a Black List-approved crime drama called “The Gunslinger,” and an adaptation of the board game “Risk” (which is being developed by Will Smith’s Overbrook Entertainment). Now, Universal is entrusting Hlavin to adapt “The Janson Directive,” the final novel by Robert Ludlum, writer of the 'Bourne' series.

'Janson' has similarities to 'Bourne': both involve a government solider who is betrayed by his commander and later ends up becoming a “wanted man.” 'Janson' has some interesting elements that might entice big name directors and actors, too. The main character is haunted by memories of the Vietnam War, during which his mentor and commanding officer turned him over to the enemy to be tortured for his own sadistic means. Did someone say “MAU?” We smell a perfect Michael Cimino comeback vehicle with this one.

Universal must be counting on Hlavin to turn in a killer script here. They don’t have a property like 'Harry Potter' or 'Twilight' to fall back on, unless you count those 'Riddick' movies. Their one big franchise—aside from the 'Fast and Furious' films (Vin Diesel has truly been a gift and a curse for the studio)—is the 'Bourne' series. Tony Gilroy’s “The Bourne Legacy” stars Jeremy Renner as a character who is not named Jason Bourne. It opens next summer and deals with the series’ history while leaving open the possibility for a future Matt Damon/Paul Greengrass sequel (though, we’re not holding our breath). Universal is no doubt hoping to spin 'Janson' into its own successful action series, a move that would buy the studio some breathing room and at least a few sequels worth of profits. If 'Legacy' and 'Janson' are both hits, perhaps a Ludlum “Avengers” could be made, with Brian Cox taking on the Clark Gregg role.

Cimino jokes aside (but, we’re actually not kidding), it will be interesting to see whom Universal hires to direct the picture. They gave Greengrass his first shot at a studio movie with “The Bourne Supremacy,” and were repaid that favor with a $100 million bath on “Green Zone” and the director’s noncommittal attitude towards a fourth 'Bourne' movie. Studios should start dealing with summer tentpole directors the way they do “Saw” and “Paranormal Activity” filmmakers: bring in some guy, and if he gives you any grief, grab another kid from film school. Lionsgate went so far as to give “Saw VI” director Kevin Greutert the indentured servant treatment, enforcing their “Saw 3D” option only after trades reported he would be making “Paranormal Activity 2.” The studio seemed to be doing it just for the fun of it. One executive who has shown admiringly little love for tentpole and awards directors alike is Columbia’s Amy Pascal, who fired Steven Soderbergh and Sam Raimi like they were a couple of craft service cronies.

We’re interested to see what Hlavin will do with the script and whether or not he can make it unique enough to avoid too many 'Bourne' comparisons. If audiences show up for it, though, the only comparisons the studio will care about involve box office numbers. Actually, that’s all they’ll care about either way. [Deadline/24 Frames] -- By Ryan Sartor

This article is related to: Films, Film Studios, Universal


The Playlist

The obsessives' guide to contemporary cinema via film discussion, news, reviews, features, nostalgia, movie music, soundtracks, DVDs and more.


Check out Indiewire on LockerDome on LockerDome

E-Mail Updates