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Universal Taps Irwin Winkler For Robert Ludlum’s ‘The Sigma Protocol’

By | Thursday January 12, 2012 @ 4:38pm PST
Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: After re-starting one Robert Ludlum novel franchise with The Bourne Legacy, Universal Pictures is looking to get in gear with The Sigma Protocol, the last thriller Ludlum wrote before he passed away. The studio has set Irwin Winkler and Jose Ruisanchez to write the script. Winkler will produce with Captivate Entertainment’s Jeffrey Weiner and Ben Smith.

The novel focuses on a man who, while vacationing in Switzerland, runs into an old friend. He watches as the guy turns homicidal and guns down six people. The vacationer then gets plunged into a conspiracy and runs for his life. A female federal agent is following the clues, and might be the ordinary guy’s only hope of survival from a ruthless assassin.

“What we are really hoping to do is create a franchise, built around this ordinary guy who gets caught up in international intrigue, and who teams with this operative who is declared a rogue by the CIA,” said Winkler. “Unlike Bourne, who is a trained assassin, this is an innocent guy traveling in Europe who gets in way over his head. And it has all the great Ludlum intrigue.”

Universal has been trying to make a movie out of Sigma Protocol since 2002. At one time, the studio had Antoine Fuqua attached, and later, Iron Man scribes Art Marcum and Matt Holloway took cracks at the novel. Winkler and his partner have gone back to the book. They got the job after writing a … Read More »

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Universal And Captivate Target Next Robert Ludlum Thriller: ‘The Janson Directive’

Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: After getting the spinoff film The Bourne Legacy into production with Tony Gilroy directing his script and Jeremy Renner starring, Universal Pictures, Captivate Entertainment and Ludlum Entertainment are moving forward with another feature adaptation of a Robert Ludlum thriller novel. The studio has hired John Hlavin to script The Janson Directive, one of the last novels Ludlum wrote before he died in 2001. Ben Smith and Jeffrey Weiner are producing through Captivate, which has a first look Universal deal. The production company just signed with UTA.

Published a year after Ludlum’s death, The Janson Directive focuses on Paul Janson, an ex-Navy SEAL and former member of the covert government agency Consular Operations. In the book, he is haunted by memories of the Vietnam War and his mentor and commanding officer, whose sadistic side prompted him to turn Janson over to the enemy to be tortured. Janson escaped and provided the evidence of war crimes that caused his CO’s execution. Years later, Janson is a corporate security consultant who takes a job rescuing an important man, but when the job goes awry, Janson is targeted for a “beyond salvage” termination order. He has no choice but to follow the clues that lead him to a massive scandal. Read More »

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