Kevin Costner close to deal to serve as cornerstone for two Tom Clancy franchises

Paramount is betting big on Tom Clancy.

They’ve had a fair amount of luck with the author’s work in the past, and they’ve done their best to reinvent Jack Ryan as they’ve dealt with cast changes.  “The Hunt For Red October” was a great showcase for young Alec Baldwin and Sean Connery hot on the heels of his “Untouchables” Oscar win.  With “Patriot Games” and “Clear and Present Danger,” they reinvented the series around Harrison Ford as a central personality.  With “Sum Of All Fears,” Ben Affleck stepped into the part as they attempted to back everything up for a younger take on the character.

Since then, they’ve worked to figure out how to reboot it again, and they’ve also worked to figure out what they can do with the other Clancy books that they own.  In “Sum Of All Fears,” they cast Liev Schreiber as John Clark, a CIA operative who has become a major part of Clancy’s overall world, the same character who was played by Willem Dafoe in “Clear and Present Danger.”  He’s an important part of the studio’s overall franchise plans, and today, it looks like they’re one step closer to making those plans a reality.

Kevin Costner is reported to be in final negotiations now to appear in not one but two new Tom Clancy films.  The first is the Jack Ryan film that Kenneth Branagh is directing, and that’s coming together as a really interesting overall package.  Branagh is playing the villain in the film as well as directing, and Chris Pine is onboard as Jack Ryan.  Pine, also working hard for Paramount as Captain Kirk in their “Star Trek” franchise, has become a go-to guy for the studio, even though he really hasn’t been tested away from “Star Trek” yet.

In addition, they want Costner to appear in “Without Remorse,” the film that sets up John Clark as a character, and it seems they’re busy trying to pin down Tom Hardy to play Clark.  That would allow them to build a franchise around him, a major step for Hardy.  Sure, he’s been in a “Star Trek” sequel, and he played Bane this summer, but bad guys don’t get to come back for future films in a franchise.  This time, Hardy would be the main character.  William Harper, the character Costner is signing on to play, serves as a sort of mentor to both Ryan and Clark, so should be a major part of both films.

Costner seems like a great choice to be the guy they use to bridge the two films, and I’m happy to see that his exile from mainstream films seems to be over.  I’m excited to see what the story is for the Jack Ryan film, which is evidently an original and not based on any of the books.  Meanwhile, Christopher McQuarrie, who is becoming a major asset for Paramount thanks to his work on “Jack Reacher,” is in talks to re-write and direct “Without Remorse.”  That’s a pretty solid line-up for both films, and I think it makes the prospect of the return of Jack Ryan, as well as the extension of the Tom Clancy franchise in general, well worth paying attention to as both projects continue to come together.