David Cronenberg to helm Robert Ludlum conspiracy book adaptation


Writer and director David Cronenberg (A History of Violence, Eastern Promises) is currently in negotiations to direct The Matarese Circle, a political thriller and potential franchise for MGM, according to reports by The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. Denzel Washington is attached to star in the film, which is based on a Robert Ludlum novel.

The 1979 book revolves around two rival intelligence agents, one American, one Soviet, who find themselves working together to expose members of a mysterious group of criminals called the Matarese, that has infiltrated the highest levels of American government. Ludlum also published a sequel to the book in 1997, titled The Matarese Countdown.

Michael Brandt and Derek Haas, the writing team behind the hit action thriller Wanted, adapted the original book into a screenplay for MGM.

The Matarese Circle adds to an already active MGM film slate. After Quantum of Solace, the company will regain ownership of the James Bond franchise, and Guillermo del Toro’s The Hobbit two-parter, is also in the works.

Several other Ludlum works are in development, including:

  • Paramount is adapting The Chancellor Manuscript, in which a man named Peter Chancellor becomes a mirror of his latest novel, as he becomes tangled in a web involving Washington power brokers and a blackmail plot created to alter U.S. policy.
  • Universal is developing The Sigma Protocol. After a twin dies in a plane crash, his brother reluctantly takes his place in the investment firm started by their father, a Holocaust survivor. After an old college buddy tries to kill him on a crowded Zurich street, a chain of events is set off, that ultimately leads him into the web of a worldwide conspiracy. Behind it all is a multinational cartel named Sigma, that was built on the rubble of World War II by industrialists and financiers bent on exploiting wartime technology and protecting their wealth from the threat of communism.
  • The Bourne trilogy was also derived from Ludlum’s work, and a fourth edition to the series is in development at Universal with Paul Greengrass returning to direct.
  • Summit Pictures is developing a remake of an early Ludlum work called The Osterman Weekend, which director Sam Peckinpah turned into a film in 1983. The story follows a host of an investigative news show, who is convinced by the CIA that friends he has invited to a getaway weekend in the country, are engaged in a conspiracy that threatens national security.