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Production News: Bourne Without Bourne, Mad Max Stalls, Eastern Promises 2

Production News: Bourne Without Bourne, Mad Max Stalls, Eastern Promises 2

– Writer-director Tony Gilroy is trying to have it both ways. He confirms that The Bourne Legacy will be made without Matt Damon – but he contradicts himself. “This is not a reboot or a recast or a prequel. No one’s replacing Matt Damon,” Gilroy says. “There will be a whole new hero, a whole new chapter…this is a stand-alone project” that happens to be using the title of Robert Ludlum’s book, “but will not use the story”:

“The easiest way to think of it is an expansion or a reveal…Jason Bourne will not be in this film, but he’s very much alive. What happened in the first three films is the trigger for what happens. I’m building a legend and an environment and a wider conspiracy…the world we’re making enhances and advances and invites Jason Bourne’s return [down the road]…Everything you saw in the first three films actually happened, and everyone who got into them will be rewarded for paying attention. We’re going to show you the bigger picture, the bigger canvas. When you see where we’re going and see what we’re doing it’ll be pretty obvious.”

Unlike Gilroy’s project, the fourth book in Robert Ludlum’s series, written by Eric Van Lustbader (with permission from Ludlum’s estate) does center on Jason Bourne. Gilroy has couched the story to exclude Bourne since Damon made it clear that he wouldn’t be returning without director Paul Greengrass. Bourne gives Gilroy, who worked with a small budget on Michael Clayton and a larger budget on Duplicity, an opportunity to expand his canvas with an established brand. He sold Universal on his concept, and the studio wants to continue the franchise, which earned a total $944 million for the first three films worldwide. But it is quite risky to ditch lynchpin Damon and the audience’s loyalty to Bourne.

Mad Max is struggling with its long-in-the-works fourth installment: production has been delayed until February 2012, leaving numerous Australian crew members without work. As the Australian dollar gets more expensive and New Zealand’s actors union fights with Peter Jackson’s Hobbit production, the land down under is making things tough for Hollywood productions. UPDATE: Delays are due to rain, not budget.

– And while David Cronenberg is making a sequel to Eastern Promises, star Naomi Watts will not return. Watts told MTV: “I don’t think I’m in it…Nobody called, so I guess they recast or maybe created a new role for a more attractive, younger girl.” MTV, after lamenting that Watts won’t have her own nude spa fight scene, recalls that the ending of the first film is a perfect pick-up for a sequel: we learn that gangster Nikolai is actually a Federal Security Service agent, a role that Viggo Mortenson will indeed play again.

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