Franchises don’t die in Hollywood. They either over stay their welcome because the studio sees it as easy money or, increasingly in the past few years, it gets a creative reboot hoping to placate audiences with something “new” in hopes of a guaranteed profit. The Jason Bourne franchise which began with “The Bourne Identity” almost eight years ago and recently “completed” with “The Bourne Ultimatum” is one of the few properties Universal Studios could count on over the past decade. Unfortunately, Paul Greengrass, who directed the last two installments, has publicly said he has no desire to return for a third time (Doug Liman helmed the first film). More disconcerting is the fact star Matt Damon has also tied his return to Greengrass’ involvement. Universal is hoping to turn Damon’s frown upside down with the news that Tony Gilroy has agreed to write the screenplay for what is being tentatively titled, “The Bourne Legacy.”
Gilroy, who received an Oscar nomination for both writing and directing “Michael Clayton,” wrote the first three “Bourne” films. In fact, Gilroy is known to have worked closely with both Damon and Greengrass on the creative direction on the last two pictures. It’s unclear what storyline “Legacy” will follow, but it definitely won’t be the book of the same title by Eric Lustabader. What “Legacy” could represent, however, is a spin-off from the first three films centering on other characters in the “Bourne” universe. However, it’s more likely Gilroy’s hiring is meant to convince Damon he’d be in good hands if he returned for a fourth time around. And let’s be frank, the paycheck wouldn’t be bad either.
Damon and Greengrass recently reunited on “The Green Zone” which received mediocre reviews, but was a huge disappointment at the box office after Universal tried to sell at as a pseudo-“Bourne” picture. Gilroy is coming off the better reviewed “Duplicity” which was also a theatrical misfire.
Damon recently completed “True Grit” for the Coen Bros. and will be seen in “The Adjustment Bureau” this September.
No word on when Universal hopes to get a fourth “Bourne” in theaters.