News broke last night that Universal Pictures will be moving ahead on a fourth installment of the Bourne franchise, tentatively titled The Bourne Legacy. Tony Gilroy, whom the studio has called "the key screenwriter" behind the first three Bourne movies, will be returning to pen this latest entry into the lucrative Bourne corpus.
While that's terrific news for fans of the franchise, there's no news yet on whether Gilroy's involvement will convince Matt Damon to reprise the role that transformed him into a movie star. Damon has previously stated that he wouldn't do Bourne 4 unless Paul Greengrass, who directed the last two Bournes, was on board for the fourth. At this point, Greengrass has not signed on to direct, meaning it's possible that Universal could move ahead on The Bourne Legacy without its star.
Although it has been speculated that Universal may be looking for opportunities to create spin-off movies based on other characters from the Bourne universe, it's surely not the studio's first choice. Matt Damon is Jason Bourne and vice versa; without Damon, the Bourne franchise doesn't have very much to differentiate itself from other, rather ubiquitous spy movies, except for its sharp writing and award-winning editing.
Frank Marshall and Pat Crowley will return to produce The Bourne Legacy along with Captivate Entertainment's Jeffrey Weiner and Ben Smith. Although "The Bourne Legacy" is the title of a book written by Eric Lustabader in Robert Ludlum's original 'Bourne' series, Gilroy's script will be unrelated.
Universal is aiming for a 2012 release for the latest Bourne chapter, so there's still time for Greengrass and Damon to come around. Otherwise Bourne's "Legacy" could very well be tainted by what would surely be a box-office flop without Damon.