Dwayne Johnson Is Building a Robert Ludlum Cinematic Universe, Of All Things
A “Robert Ludlum Cinematic Universe” seems like a fairly unlikely concept, but it has been attempted before — when Matt Damon exited the Bourne franchise, Universal tried to keep the series going with Jeremy Renner in The Bourne Legacy. While that chem-riddled experiment failed, the studio is attempting something a bit more ambitious, reuniting Dwayne Johnson with The Rundown screenwriter James Vanderbilt for a new franchise based on Ludlum’s other, non-Bourne titles.
THR reports on Universal’s latest cinematic universe plan, which teams Johnson with Vanderbilt to adapt a series of Ludlum novels with crossover potential. First up is The Janson Directive, which Vanderbilt scripted based on a story he co-wrote with Akiva Goldsman (who knows a little something about overseeing franchises from his work with Paramount on Transformers). Johnson will play the lead role, obviously.
Universal has been developing a film based on The Janson Directive for some time now, but this new plan would bring many of Ludlum’s novels together in a more cohesive way, allowing for Johnson to possibly appear in other films in the universe. In addition to The Janson Directive, Vanderbilt will write two more treatments to shape the new franchise; though Universal has yet to announce the specific titles, the studio is also eyeing The Parsifal Mosaic, Covert One and The Sigma Protocol — all of which sound like movies Jack Donaghy would pitch on 30 Rock.
Then again, if anyone could take a franchise idea that would probably only sound cool to your dad during a three-hour layover and turn it into something kind of awesome, it’s Johnson. He is Franchise Viagra, after all.
The Janson Directive follows Paul Janson, an operative-turned-security consultant at the top of his game. When he’s framed for the murder of a Nobel Laureate, he’s forced to team up with the man sent to kill him in order to clear his name.
Johnson offered a brief statement regarding the Ludlum Cinematic Universe (or LCU, I guess), sharing his excitement for the new project:
The Janson Directive is classic Robert Ludlum. Sharp, edgy and layered storylines. The character is complex, conflicted, bad ass and lethal — I can't wait to sink my teeth into this and bring him to life. Between Jamie, Akiva, Captivate and Universal, it's an exciting time to help produce and build out this awesome Ludlum universe.
The actor’s famously busy schedule just keeps getting busier. This year alone he’s filming Baywatch, Jumanji and Fast 8, and this week he seemingly confirmed that he’ll play the title role in Shane Black’s long-gestating Doc Savage movie, which Johnson says they’ll begin filming next year.