Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Bourne 4 is in the works, but director walks out

PAUL GREENGRASS quits Bourne 4
The three Bourne movies (Bourne Identity, Bourne Supremacy, & Bourne Ultimatum) have been one of the best action movie franchises. If you ask me, it's like THE American version of James Bond. But it's a franchise too good that you almost dont want it to be ruined by a fourth movie. But sure enough, a fourth movie is being developed.

THE PLAYLIST reports that director Paul Greengrass (who directed Bourne Supermacy & Bourne Ultimatum) has quit "Bourne 4" and walked away from the project. Two scripts have been written for the project, which is not exactly a vote of confidence. One penned by George Nolfi (who co-wrote 'Bourne 3' and is currently busy working with Matt Damon on "The Adjustment Bureau"), and a few months ago, Universal hired another scribe, Josh Zetumer, to write what they are diplomatically calling a "parallel" script. Zetumer has been a Black List favorite for several years, and has "The Infiltrator" in development with Leonard DiCaprio's company, Appian Way, and wrote Peter Berg's "Dune" — he is hot to say the least.

A small part of the problem? Greengrass, who has been busy toiling away on "Green Zone," was not consulted by Universal in the hiring of a new writer. This obviously did not make him happy, but that's only part of the issue that's been ongoing for some time (meanwhile, no one seems to love Nolfi's version).

Matt Damon has already said that "Green Zone," another Universal film that Greengrass directed, cost $100 million to make. But the price tag of this Iraq War-set thriller is actually much closer to $150 million — Greengrass has reshot several times (gets expensive) and has been tinkering away in the editing room for months spending Universal's money and testing their patience. This was supposed to be a smaller movie that Greengrass made in between 'Bourne' films, something Universal let Greengrass make to keep him happy and part of the Uni/Bourne family, but you can bet when he said, "(expensive) Iraq War thriller," the studio wasn't exactly jazzed, even if Matt Damon was the star.

Going further back, "The Bourne Ultimatum" was a huge hit, obviously, but again was made in a similar fashion: very expensive and lots of reshoots because no screenplay was finished. Greengrass is now infamous for "finding the movie" or "figuring it all out" during the middle of production. As in, shooting lots of various things and letting the story naturally and organically come to the surface. He's fine with continuing that approach on "Bourne 4," but after the "Green Zone" expense, the buttoning-up of budgets across the board and the major overhead of 'Bourne 3' (that had to be a huge hit to be successful), Universal does not want to take that risk once again and the studio and director have been butting heads on that point ever since. Considering everything Greengrass did with the Bourne franchise, he hasn't been happy how he's been treated on "Green Zone" and how hard the studio has been riding him. It seems like the straw has finally broken the camel's back.

So right now, they're citing "creative differences" and we expect this to hit the trades at any moment.

There's chatter about this all around CAA, and Universal surely doesn't want word to get out. The conventional wisdom is that Greengrass and Universal can kiss and make up and in a few months they could be right back at it, but as a rather famous director said this weekend, "So, I guess they're looking for a new 'Bourne' director, huh?"

What's Matt Damon's take on this? He's "loyal to Paul" which means he's likely not going to star in any "Bourne 4" film without him. Or at least not without his blessing and even then, it would have to be a spectacular script (and right now one of those doesn't exist, but Universal has been exploring other options....).


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