EXCLUSIVE: Danny Strong, who wrote the Jay Roach-directed HBO films Recount and the upcoming Sarah Palin pic Game Change, is stepping up to features. Sony Pictures has set him to write The Lost Symbol, Sony’s third installment of the Dan Brown-penned thrillers focusing on symbologist Robert Langdon. The expectation is that the film will be directed by Mark Romanek after Ron Howard opted out of directing the third film, with Howard producing with Imagine partner Brian Grazer after he helmed the blockbusters The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons. Grazer produced the first two films in the series with the late John Calley.
Strong comes in after Brown had a hand in writing a script as did Steven Knight. The project is a priority for the studio. The Da Vinci Code grossed $758 million worldwide in 2006, and while Angels & Demons dropped off to a $486 million worldwide gross in 2009, that is still a big box office haul. Tom Hanks, who played Langdon in the first two thrillers, is expected to reprise, but no commitment has been made at this point. Hanks is starring for Sony Pictures in A Captain’s Duty, playing heroic captain Richard Phillips in the Somali pirate drama that will be directed by Paul Greengrass. Strong is repped by CAA.