Posted on Thursday, April 28th, 2011 by Russ Fischer
The backstory of the new telling of Jack Ryan‘s origin story is becoming quite an origin story of its own. Paramount has been trying to kickstart the rebirth of the Jack Ryan franchise for two years — it stalled out in 2002 with the Ben Affleck-led The Sum of All Fears.
Now the latest screenwriter to try to stick an adrenaline needle in the franchise’s nearly-flatlined chest is David Koepp. But is he doctoring the script, or starting from scratch?
Here’s the quick summary of the project that has been known as Moscow. Paramount decided to begin again with Jack Ryan after Star Trek was a hit, and hired Chris ‘Captain Kirk v.2′ Pine to be the new incarnation of Tom Clancy’s venerable character. Hossein Amini was the first writer on board, and his draft was in play for a while. Then a spec script called Dubai, by Adam Cozad, was picked up and Mr. Cozad hired to refit it as Moscow, with Jack Ryan as the lead. (A process which happens, if not all the time in Hollywood, then frequently enough, as when the spec Simon Says became Die Hard With a Vengeance.)
But that script needed work, so Anthony Peckham, one of the Sherlock Holmes writers, came on. He was succeeded — briefly — by Adam Cozad once more, and then Steven Zaillian was brought on, in a move that is akin to replacing a 12-gauge shotgun with a .50 machine gun. But he left the project very quickly, and the film was nearly stalled out at Paramount. (Which, fortunately also has Star Trek 2 in prep to take up Chris Pine’s time.) Why did Steven Zaillian bail? We don’t know, frankly, but reading between the lines a lack of direction might be the issue.
(By which I mean story direction on the producer side; Lost director Jack Bender has been the guy planning to sit in the Moscow director’s chair, and somehow I doubt that he’s the issue. Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Mace Neufeld are still producing, and David Ellison — yeah, the mega-financier — is now a producer as well. All the screenwriter dithering is reportedly in the service of ‘getting it right,’ which is a great idea that, given the typical workflow of a studio feature, is sometimes difficult to take seriously.)
That feature-length recap brings us to now, when Deadline says that David Koepp is getting seven figures to “redraft the script by Adam Cozad.” Which script? Dubai? The first Moscow draft? The post-Peckham draft? It sounds like that last one is the jumping-off point, but the Moscow title has been stripped. David Koepp first has to finish his film Premium Rush, and then he’ll be able to go to work. At that point we might get an idea of how different his version will really be.
The idea is to go into production in January, after Star Trek 2 wraps. We’ll be watching with great curiosity to see if that actually happens. Paramount is spending enough money on this one that something will happen.