In a stunning turn of events, Matt Damon and writer-director Paul Greengrass have done an about-face and are planning to return to the “Bourne” franchise at Universal, an individual familiar with the project has told TheWrap.
Representatives for Universal and Greengrass had no comment.
While some will spin this as a win all around — for Damon, Greengrass, Universal and most importantly, action fans — the trained eye will see shades of grey here.
Also read: Matt Damon Is ‘Open’ to Return as Jason Bourne (Video)
In recent months, insiders have told TheWrap that Damon has been eager to reprise his signature role as superspy Jason Bourne, even without Greengrass’ involvement. After “We Bought a Zoo,” “Promised Land,” “Elysium” and “The Monuments Men” all disappointed at the box office, the actor found himself in desperate need of a hit, especially with pal Ben Affleck‘s career soaring to new heights. That meant returning to “Bourne.”
Damon was even willing to work with “Bourne Legacy” star Jeremy Renner and incoming director Justin Lin, though he hoped Greengrass would reconsider his stance, having turned his back on Jason Bourne years ago once the character regained his memory.
While Greengrass is coming off the critically acclaimed hit “Captain Phillips,” he has struggled to settle on a follow-up film, flirting with several different projects at various studios, though none has stuck yet. It’s crazy to think that a director as talented as Greengrass can’t do what he wants, when he wants, but that’s Hollywood for you.
Also read: ‘Bourne’ Director Paul Greengrass Defends the Big Budget Tentpole Machine
While Universal is no doubt delighted by the reversal by Damon and Greengrass, the studio basically swatted away its planned Aaron Cross sequel, which Renner would star in and Lin would direct.
The film was slated for release on July 16, 2016, but if Greengrass and Damon can close their deals and agree on a script, then their movie will inherit that plum release date, forcing Universal to delay the Aaron Cross sequel again. It already moved once to make way for Universal’s N.W.A. biopic “Straight Outta Compton.”
Lin would’ve been pressed for time anyway, as he’s set to direct the second season of HBO’s “True Detective.”
Damon is currently preparing to star in Ridley Scott‘s “The Martian.” He’s represented by WME, while CAA represents Greengrass.
The news was first reported by Deadline.