Bourne Identity: Robert Ludlum Properties Go to Universal

Nov 21, 2008-Universal and the estate of “The Bourne Identity” author Robert Ludlum gave made a pact that will give the studio exclusive rights to the Jason Bourne character and first look at other Ludlum novels.

The deal with Ludlum Entertainment ensures more installments in the Bourne saga, which was envisioned as a three-picture series.

After the first 3 films grossed a total of more than $1 billion worldwide, Universal signed Matt Damon and director Paul Greengrass for a fourth film that George Nolfi is writing. Produced by Frank Marshall and Ludlum Entertainment chair Jeffrey Weiner, the film will be a summer 2010 release.

Weiner was the author’s accountant for 16 years before being tapped by Ludlum to be estate executor and to run the holding company that produces his movies and publishes his books and videogames.

The deal was put together by Universal co-presidents of production Jimmy Horowitz and president of production Donna Langley. It gives Universal an inside track on other Ludlum books that would be developed with Ludlum Entertainment.

Universal tried but didn’t win “The Matarese Circle” when Ludlum Cold War thriller was shopped last April, with Denzel Washington attached. MGM and Relativity won the auction, setting David Cronenberg to direct the film.

Ludlum’s books turn into seven-figure packages, including the $4 million Paramount paid for “The Chancellor Manuscript” in 2005, with Leonardo DiCaprio attached to star and produce with Red Wagon.

Universal is developing another Ludlum book, “The Sigma Protocol,” with Strike Entertainment partners Marc Abraham and Eric Newman. Summit Entertainment has “The Osterman Weekend,” with Simon Kinberg set to write and direct.

Over 25 of Ludlum’s novels have never been exploited in movies. The author died while “The Bourne Identity” was in production.