Recently, Variety reported that Universal Pictures has aquired the exclusive rights to Jason Bourne character and has inked a first-look deal for other Ludlum novels. This new deal “paves the way” for future Bourne installments. The fourth Bourne film is currently scheduled to be released in summer 2010, with Paul Greengrass directing Matt Damon as Bourne, with a script by George Nolfi.

Jeffrey Weiner, chariman-CEO of Ludlum Entertainment, will now be an active participant in developing the projects. Worth noting is that the Ludlum estate will have contractual approval on screenplays, characters, and actors for the new films, which seems to indicate that any new movies will hew closely to the spirit of the books they are based on. With several high-profile Ludlum projects already in the pipeline, and dozens more that have yet to be put to film, Ludlum’s properties are fast becoming as hot as those of the late Phillip K. Dick (Ludlum left us in 2001).

Personally, I’m rather torn about this news. I am probably one of the biggest Bourne fans out there (I saw both Supremacy and Ultimatum on opening night in the theaters, and loved them both despite their flaws). But with the Bourne series becoming a huge cash cow grossing more than $1 billion worldwide, Universal obviously sees it as a way to print money and to compete against the newly rejuvenated Bond franchise (whose recent films, ironically, took a lot of their inspiration from Bourne). I don’t want to live to see the day when Bourne Film #13 is coming out in theaters with Haley Joel Osment as Bourne and Simon West directing. The trilogy was wonderful and singular, and the fourth film has a small shot at continuing the legacy. I would prefer that they not milk this one until all that’s left is a withered and dessicated teat of greatness.

Discuss: Are you looking forward to more Bourne films? Do you want this series to become as massive as the Bond franchise?

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