EXCLUSIVE: This signals that the picture — tentatively titled The Bourne Legacy — is on a clear forward track. Though it doesn’t answer the question of whether Matt Damon will return to reprise his signature character of the amnesiac assassin Jason Bourne. I’m told that Universal plans to make the film even if it has to replace Damon, who’d be crazy to give up his franchise character and a huge paycheck. So the studio is making a deal with Bourne franchiser scripter Tony Gilroy ( who helmed both Michael Clayton and Duplicity) to direct the 4th installment. Gilroy was hired to write the fourquel back in June. The picture will be produced by Frank Marshall, along with Jeffrey Weiner and Ben Smith of Captivate Entertainment. Bourne had originally been earmarked for 2012, but right now a clear timetable hasn’t been locked in. The picture is a giant priority for Universal, and Donna Langley and Peter Cramer have been working hard to make it happen.
So what about Matt? Damon last indicated that he wouldn’t come back unless director Paul Greengrass helmed. Greengrass made the 2nd and 3rd installments, while Doug Liman directed the first. Greengrass exited the Bourne 4 in a huff when the studio began developing it while he and Damon were making Green Zone for the studio. Gilroy has scripted the first three pictures by deconstructing a dense Robert Ludlum spy thriller down to its essence of a man who can’t remember his past. Even though some think Gilroy misfired with Duplicity starring Julia Roberts and Clive Owen, his Michael Clayton was superb. Gilroy’s repped by CAA.