UPDATE, 1:52 PM: Tom Hanks and Ron Howard, the star and director, respectively, of Sony’s first two tentpole movies based on Dan Brown’s novels, are returning for Inferno, we’ve learned. Hanks had been expected to reprise his role as Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon for The Lost Symbol, the third novel in Brown’s book series. But Howard had bowed out of that project, which is now on the back burner, saying he wanted to produce it with Brian Grazer and their Imagine Entertainment but not direct. Now we’re hearing he’ll return for Inferno.
PREVIOUS BREAKING…Inferno was released in May and is the fourth Robert Langdon book written by The Da Vinci Code and Angels & Demons author Dan Brown. Sony, which has film rights to the franchise, has just set a December 18, 2015 release date for it. David Koepp, who wrote Angels & Demons, is aboard to write the script. The news means Brown’s third installment of the thriller series, The Lost Symbol, will not be the next movie for Sony. Danny Strong had been set to write that adaptation in March 2012 and the expectation was the film would be directed by Mark Romanek after Ron Howard opted out of directing as he had done on the first two pics. Not much has been heard of that project since, and now Sony is leapfrogging it for Inferno.
Inferno the novel is set in Europe and inspired by Dante, author of the 14th century poem The Divine Comedy, the author’s journey through hell, purgatory and heaven. The protagonist is once again is Langdon. The franchise is an important one for Sony: 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.