EXCLUSIVE: Deadline can now confirm the cast for this long gestating, highly anticipated action thriller that will be the first of an anticipated franchise trilogy. It resurrects the popular Tom Clancy character of CIA analyst Jack Ryan last seen on film in 2002 and now played by Chris Pine in the role already made famous by Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, and Ben Affleck. After various starts and stops, bad luck and good fortune, Deadline also has learned that Jack Ryan finally has come together for a release in the 4th quarter of 2013.
Paramount chose to wait for Pine to complete the second installment of Star Trek in this contemporized original prequel story that picks up Ryan before he joined the CIA. (Paramount long ago locked in Pine after he played Captain Kirk.) His love interest and the female lead is Keira Knightley. Paramount was intensely searching because it’s a high profile role — an older version of the character was played by Anne Archer in the Harrison Ford films — and involves options that would potentially put the actress in three pictures.
As Deadline previously reported, Kevin Costner has an invented but key role as does the film’s director Kenneth Branagh who will play the Russian villain plotting to wreck the U.S. economy. Paramount began talks with the Thor helmer to replace the once-attached Jack Bender. Paramount courted Costner to become a linchpin in not only Jack Ryan but also the spinoff franchise Without Remorse based on Clancy’s 1993 novel. (The studio is now courting The Dark Knight Rises villain Tom Hardy to star, with Christopher McQuarrie rewriting to direct.) The deal that came together envisions Costner potentially headlining his own film as William Harper, a true blue American idealist who recruits and mentors both Ryan and John Kelly from Without Remorse. Kelly later becomes CIA operative Clark.
Paramount like every studio is looking to build tentpoles and has a good opportunity for more than one here by cross-pollinating characters Ryan and Clark like The Avengers successfully keeps doing.
Branagh recently described the movie as “an original story that allows us to understand how Jack Ryan develops into a CIA analyst, before joining, and perhaps even joining, the CIA. It’s a very contemporary action thriller set in the here and now.” its launching point is mentioned in Clancy’s The Hunt For Red October book and film: a terrifying helicopter crash that nearly killed Ryan when he was a 23-year-old Marines platoon leader and the only member to survive.
Paramount Pictures and co-financier Skydance Productions went top shelf to get the franchise relaunch to the starting line and hired David Koepp for 7-figures to redraft the script by Adam Cozad known as Moscow. Cozad was a screenwriter without a screen credit and yet now is in the middle of some of the bigger projects in town. Screenwriter Hossein Amini first wrote a totally different version that was being developed simultaneously with Cozad’s Dubai. The genesis of this Jack Ryan story started as Dubai, which Cozad then turned into Moscow which was bought by Paramount and then turned into this Jack Ryan. Then Anthony Peckham did a pass. Then Cozad was put back on, then Koepp was brought in. Koepp, whose franchise work includes Mission: Impossible, Spider-Man and Jurassic Park, couldn’t get started until he’d finished Premium Rush, the film he co-wrote and directed.
Certainly an acceptable version of Jack Ryan could have been put into production this year, but the priority was more about launching a new franchise then filling a release slot. The studio’s desire to get the screenplay right prompted Paramount to even shuffle the start dates of Jack Ryan with Pine’s other studio franchise, Star Trek 2. That move was prompted by the exit of Steve Zaillian, who scripted the 1994 Ryan film Clear And Present Danger and did uncredited rewrite work on Patriot Games. Zaillian made a deal to rewrite the reboot script but had a change of heart and withdrew before starting.
Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Mace Neufeld are producing for Paramount and David Ellison’s Skydance Productions is cofinancing the entire Jack Ryan series under its overall Paramount deal. Ellison will also be involved in a producing capacity. Skydance is also partnered with Paramount on Without Remorse.
The Jack Ryan franchise has been dormant since 2002′s The Sum Of All Fears, with Ben Affleck playing a young Ryan in a film that didn’t live up to its predecessors despite a $193M worldwide gross. The franchise was originally launched with Alec Baldwin in the lead role in The Hunt For Red October, which grossed $200M worldwide in 1990. Harrison Ford took over the character for 1992′s Patriot Games, which grossed $178M worldwide, and 1994′s Clear And Present Danger, which grossed $215M worldwide.