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. 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.