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Hollywood Isn't Giving Up Its Repetition Disorder Anytime Soon; See 'The Gray Man'

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood May 30, 2014 at 12:37PM

Hollywood is hellbent to find franchises and multi-part literary properties not just because they seek easy-sell established brands with huge fan bases. To state the obvious, the studios have figured out that spending multi-millions to launch a one-off product just doesn't make sense.
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Greaney

Hollywood is hellbent to find franchises and multi-part literary properties not just because they seek easy-sell established brands with huge fan bases. To state the obvious, the studios have figured out that spending multi-millions to launch a one-off product just doesn't make sense. That's another reason why episodic television has the advantage: networks and channels can lure viewers to invest in characters and worlds over a long period of time (on various platforms). The studios are terrified of launching a new movie that doesn't stick. Which happens all the time when would-be franchises fall flat. 

The risk of course is spending too much on anything that doesn't fly. But unfortunately when the movie business pursues this course they throw out too much risk-taking originality in the quest for imaginary safety. 

Thus today Sony is crowing about landing the option on Mark Greaney’s "The Gray Man," the first in a four-part series for producer-partners Joe Roth and Palak Patel ("Snow White and the Huntsman," "Oz The Great and Powerful," "Maleficent") and writer-directors Anthony and Joe Russo, who delivered Marvel's current critical and audience fave "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" ($700 million worldwide) and are developing another sequel for release on May 6, 2016. (That will be their next directing gig.)

In Greaney's first book, a CIA agent is being chased by who-knows-what as he tries, "Taken"-style, to protect the daughters who do not know him. New Regency had developed the project with Brad Pitt to star and James Gray directing; CAA shopped the rights when the option lapsed. Sony production president Michael De Luca was tracking the novel as a producer and jumped on the deal. 

This article is related to: Sony/Screen Gems/Sony Pictures Classics, Sony, Sony Pictures, Michael De Luca, In The Works, Franchises, Books, Russo Brothers


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.