As the CIA characters overseeing the office monitors might say, “My god, it’s Jason Bourne!” TheWrap has learned that Universal has begun early development for what would be a sixth movie in the so-called Jason Bourne universe. Edward Berger, whose Netflix-distributed re-adaptation of “All Quiet on the Western Front” received nine Oscar nominations and won four, is in talks to possibly helm the next chapter.
There is no screenplay, nor has Matt Damon officially been approached, but the actor who starred in four of the five previous installments certainly has first right of refusal. Damon starred in “The Bourne Identity” in 2002, launching the ongoing spy franchise and reprising in three sequels. Jeremy Renner took over in “The Bourne Legacy,” a spin-off chapter released in 2012.
The Doug Liman-directed smash earned rave reviews and strong word-of-mouth in the summer of 2002, grossing $214 million worldwide on a $60 million budget. It also became one of the most-rented DVD titles for that year and accrued enough of a theatrical and post-theatrical fanbase that the Paul Greengrass-directed “The Bourne Supremacy” earned even better reviews and grossed $311 million on a $75 million budget in summer 2004.
Those two films set the tone for a decade’s worth of darker, grittier, more grounded and more pessimistic post-9/11 spy actioners, while the first sequel’s editing-heavy you-are-there action construction became an oft-imitated but rarely duplicated template for years’ worth of frenetic actioners. “The Bourne Ultimatum” arrived in 2007 and earned a rousing $444 million globally, still a franchise high.
The Renner-starring spin-0ff was a modest hit, earning $280 million but on a $125 million budget. Four years later, in the summer of 2016, Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass returned for “Jason Bourne,” which earned a decent enough $415 million on a comparatively frugal $120 million budget.
That wasn’t a sky-high number, nor were the reviews exceptionally positive. But the budget was kept in check, unlike a slew of once-were-special franchise installments (“Ghostbusters,” “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows,” “Star Trek Beyond,” “Independence Day: Resurgence,” “Alice Through the Looking Glass” and “X-Men: Apocalypse”) which underperformed or outright tanked at the global box office.
Whether or not the world needs or wants another Matt Damon-led “Bourne” flick, there’s a case to be made for rolling the dice as long as, again, the budget is kept in check. “The Meg 2: The Trench” wasn’t a blowout hit this summer, but it was profitable at $380 million worldwide because it cost $130 million. That’s much less than the likes of “The Little Mermaid,” “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny,” “The Flash,” “Transformers: Rise of the Beasts” and “Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One.”
However, there is risk in terms of the last two installments not exactly being beloved new genre classics. In terms of word-of-mouth and reviews, the last “good” movie in the “Bourne” series was 16 years ago. That means Universal and friends have to make a movie that looks like a big-screen-worthy spy actioner both for those who want another go-around with Mr. “Just Popped Back on the Grid” and those who walked away from the IP a movie or two ago. Going with a filmmaker whose last major film won a handful of Oscars seems like a good first step.
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