Barely two weeks ago we asked the question, "Does anyone actually want to see another Jack Ryan movie?" The Tom Clancy-created spy franchise has lasted four installments across three leading men, with "The Hunt For Red October," "Patriot Games," "Clear And Present Danger" and "The Sum Of All Fears," but only the first off that list really bears rewatching and, as we discussed, there's nothing particularly compelling about the central character. That being said, we got replies from a few fans of the series that indicated that an audience still exists for the franchise.
Nevertheless, Paramount have been trying to get a Tom Clancy movie going for ten years since "The Sum Of All Fears," with directors like John Woo, John Singleton and Sam Raimi all passing through, but it's the most recent incarnation of the project that's seemingly been closest to getting made: entitled "Moscow," it centers on a young Ryan as a broker who's framed for involvement in a conspiracy in Russia. The film has a star attached, in "Star Trek" lead Chris Pine, it's gone through a parade of A-list screenwriting talent, including Hossein Amini ("Drive"), Steve Zaillian ("The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo"), David Koepp ("War Of The Worlds") and, most recently, Anthony Peckham ("Sherlock Holmes"), and it has a director in TV veteran Jack Bender.
Correction: had a director. Variety report that Bender, who's helmed episodes of dozens of TV shows, but is best known for being the man behind 42 episodes of "Lost," has exited the project. According to the trade, the studio were hoping to finally get cameras rolling on the project late in the summer, and Bender, who's currently executive-producer and occasional director on another J.J. Abrams show, the ludicrous but kinda fun "Alcatraz," and is attached to Syfy's time-travel pilot "Rewind," couldn't find room in his schedule.
To be honest, we doubt very much this is the actual reason. "Rewind" is meant to shoot next month, while it's looking all but certain that "Alcatraz" is heading to Fox's chopping block: it's halved its ratings since premiering in January. Maybe Bender has other TV gigs in the works, but surely you would pass up a Syfy TV series for a big studio tentpole, particularly when you're trying to make inroads in the feature world? We suspect that the reasons for his departure can be found in the rumors that were making the rounds last time we reported on the project: that Paramount were happy with the script, but reluctant to greenlight the project at its current budgetary levels. Did Bender walk due to the attempts at cost-cutting? Or maybe he was just fed up with waiting around for Paramount to pull the trigger?
Either way, it seems like Paramount are back in the market for a director, and we wouldn't hold your breath for a visionary: cheap, cheerful and workmanlike is probably the name of the game, so look for folks like Antoine Fuqua, or other TV helmers, to be in consideration. If they can land one, get the budget down, and keep their star's schedule free, "Moscow," or whatever it ends up being called, may eventually be headed to theaters.