The Jason Bourne saga has become an intriguing story both on and off the screen these days. Recently word broke that Universal has selected Tony Gilroy, who penned all three Bourne films, to direct the fourth entry in the popular spy-franchise. However, it is known that Matt Damon would not reprise his role without director Paul Greengrass, who helmed both The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum.
Deadline reports that Gilroy, whose directorial debut Michael Clayton was both a critical and box office success, has found a way to extend the franchise without Damon’s involvement. Gilroy will explore the world surrounding Jason Bourne and, presumably, dig deeper into the Treadstone and Blackbriar mythos. While the Bourne character is not expected to return, his presence will be felt throughout the film, setting up a potential return in later films. Hit the jump if you want to find more The Bourne Legacy, which is now scheduled for an August 2012 release.
What’s great about this deal is that Damon is under no obligation to return to the franchise, which has grossed over $900 million worldwide to date. Even better is the notion of Gilroy exploring other assassins in the Bourne mythology — remember Clive Owen’s bitter assassin in The Bourne Identity?
Intriguingly enough, the article goes on to talk about the troubled productions on all three films and why Greengrass was brought on to replace The Bourne Identity director Doug Liman.
Apparently, tensions mounted on the set between producer Frank Marshall and Liman, resulting in his taking on an executive producer role for the subsequent sequels. Greengrass was hired as his replacement, but didn’t get along with Gilroy, who washed his hands of the series after Ultimatum wrapped.
While Greengrass was busy shooting his costly thriller Green Zone (also with Matt Damon), Universal began developing a fourth film. Production issues on the Iraq thriller kept Greengrass away from development on Bourne 4, but Universal continued anyway, which the director more or less took as a sign of disrespect, resulting in his and Damon’s departure from the production.
Gilroy only jumped on board for a fourth film after a meeting with the Ludlow estate resulted in a unique opportunity to branch out with the franchise.
In all honesty I had no idea such trouble existed on these productions. All of them were damn near perfect and didn’t give off the sense of behind-the-scenes issues.
However, as a fan of all three films (in a big way mind you), I’m actually quite excited at this new change of events. I felt The Bourne Ultimatum ended exactly as it should have. To bring him back would be like bringing Indiana Jones back for another go-round after having him ride off into the sunset at the end of The Last Crusade; or bringing John McClane out of the ashes to battle bad guys in a fourth Die Hard movie and then jabbing it with a PG-13 rating. And who would be stupid enough to do that?
By expanding the world of the franchise, however, Universal may now take the series in any direction they want. Personally, I think this is a much better idea than recasting the role of Jason Bourne, or going back in time and telling a prequel story. Bourne is not 007 – the character is not bigger than the actor. Matt Damon is Jason Bourne.
That said, I’m skeptical of Gilroy taking the directorial reins, especially after the disappointing Clive Owen/Julia Roberts vehicle Duplicity. Still, he’s 1-1 as far as I’m concerned; maybe a Bourne movie will put him back on top!