“Those works were never meant to be filmed,” Tony Gilroy once said dismissively about the “The Bourne Identity” novels which he eventually turned into a script for director Doug Liman. “They weren’t about human behavior. They were about running to airports.”
Tony Gilroy has never had an easy relationship with the ‘Bourne’ franchise, but he was paid handsomely to pen the scripts for each installment, but became increasingly frustrated with what ended up on screen (tellingly, he agreed to write “Bourne Ultimatum” under the conditions that he would never have to speak to Paul Greengrass, would only pen one draft — indeed, three writers are credited — get paid, and wash his hands of the entire affair).
Well, it looks like Gilroy is finally going to get a chance to tell the story his way. He’s been hired by Universal to direct the fourth installment “The Bourne Legacy” after turning in a draft of the screenplay.
The troubled project hit the skids last year when director Paul Greengrass walked from the project. Universal, trying to find a direction to the take the fourth film, had two scripts written for the project: one by George Nolfi(who co-wrote ‘Bourne 3‘ and who wrote and directed the other Matt Damon vehicle the “The Adjustment Bureau“), and another by scribe, Josh Zetumer in what was described as a “parallel” script. Zetumer has been a Black List favorite for several years, and has “The Infiltrator” in development with Leonard DiCaprio’s company, Appian Way, and wrote the latest incarnation of “Dune.” The problem? Greengrass, who had been busy toiling away on “Green Zone,” was not consulted by Universal in the hiring of a new writer. This obviously did not make him happy, but that was only part of the issue.
“Green Zone,” which was supposed to be a small film between the two franchise projects, found the budget balloon to nearly $150 million. And Greengrass’ tendency to run over schedule and budget went back to “The Bourne Ultimatum;” while Universal looked the other way once the film was a smash hit, even before “Green Zone” hit theaters, the studio was bracing for the worst. Adding even more to the plot is Matt Damon‘s loyalty to the director, more or less saying that he wouldn’t appear in any ‘Bourne’ films unless Greengrass was behind the camera.
As for Gilroy, he’s been hinted as a replacement since last winter, and is really, the best and most logical choice for the job. That said, it remains to be seen if Matt Damon will return but earlier this year, it sounded like he had pretty much moved on saying, “You don’t have anything more to contribute to a franchise that needs to continue obviously, and in order to continue, a franchise needs to be rebooted and re-energized by new perspectives. I just felt that I’d done it, and there’s nothing unnatural about that.”In fact the tentative titled, “The Bourne Legacy,” pretty much seems like an indication the franchise is moving on from Damon and that Jason Bourne character.
While the fourth entry was originally slated for 2012 release, there is no timetable yet in place. But it is easily the studio’s biggest franchise and one they’re eager to get back on screens soon. The question now is: who is the next Jason Bourne or at least the Bourne-like spy who will continue the franchise? [Deadline]