Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
Richard Linklater Frontrunner To Direct 'The Rosie Project' Starring Jennifer Lawrence Richard Linklater Frontrunner To Direct 'The Rosie Project' Starring Jennifer Lawrence The 10 Best And 5 Worst Tom Cruise Performances The 10 Best And 5 Worst Tom Cruise Performances Just For Laughs: 'The Big Lebowski' Live Read With Michael Fassbender & Jennifer Lawrence Just For Laughs: 'The Big Lebowski' Live Read With Michael Fassbender & Jennifer Lawrence Union Rep Says Safety Was A Concern On 'The Revenant' Shoot Union Rep Says Safety Was A Concern On 'The Revenant' Shoot All The Songs In 'Paper Towns' Including Bon Iver, Wilco, Vampire Weekend, Bob Dylan, And More All The Songs In 'Paper Towns' Including Bon Iver, Wilco, Vampire Weekend, Bob Dylan, And More "A Living Hell": 'The Revenant' Is Reportedly $35 Million Over Budget, A Producer Exited The Movie, And More "A Living Hell": 'The Revenant' Is Reportedly $35 Million Over Budget, A Producer Exited The Movie, And More 'Top Of The Lake' Season 2 Starts Shooting This Year, Elisabeth Moss Returns 'Top Of The Lake' Season 2 Starts Shooting This Year, Elisabeth Moss Returns Watch: Trailer For Bret Easton Ellis’ Penned Teen Horror ‘The Curse of Downers Grove’ With Bella Heathcote Watch: Trailer For Bret Easton Ellis’ Penned Teen Horror ‘The Curse of Downers Grove’ With Bella Heathcote Watch: Video Essay Counts Down The 10 Most Beautiful Movies Of All Time Watch: Video Essay Counts Down The 10 Most Beautiful Movies Of All Time Watch: Bond Is Back In New Trailer For 'Spectre' With Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Lea Seydoux, And More Watch: Bond Is Back In New Trailer For 'Spectre' With Daniel Craig, Christoph Waltz, Lea Seydoux, And More Alejandro González Iñárritu Still Has To Shoot The Finale Of 'The Revenant' Alejandro González Iñárritu Still Has To Shoot The Finale Of 'The Revenant' The 20 Best Films Of 2015 So Far The 20 Best Films Of 2015 So Far The 25 Best Animated Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 25 Best Animated Films Of The 21st Century So Far The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far The 50 Best Films Of The Decade So Far 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 Stephen King Says Wendy In Kubrick's 'The Shining' Is "One Of The Most Misogynistic Characters Ever Put On Film" Stephen King Says Wendy In Kubrick's 'The Shining' Is "One Of The Most Misogynistic Characters Ever Put On Film" All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More All The Songs In 'Pitch Perfect' Including La Roux, David Guetta, Azealia Banks, Nicki Minaj & More "It Was A Clusterfuck From Day One": 5 Things About Neill Blomkamp's Failed 'Halo' Movie "It Was A Clusterfuck From Day One": 5 Things About Neill Blomkamp's Failed 'Halo' Movie Martin Scorsese Names His 11 Scariest Horror Movies of All Time Martin Scorsese Names His 11 Scariest Horror Movies of All Time

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.


E-Mail Updates