Paul Greengrass quits new Bourne film

Decision of British director of The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum to not return throws future of spy franchise in turmoil

Paul Greengrass has quit work on the fourth instalment in the Jason Bourne series, a move that casts doubt on the future of a franchise once tipped to rival the James Bond movies.

Greengrass confirmed his departure yesterday in an official statement through studio Universal after the news was broken by the Playlist blog earlier in the day. The future of star Matt Damon in the franchise is also said to be uncertain.

Universal's statement went out of its way to rubbish claims of a dispute between Greengrass and the studio. It also suggested that the director's departure did not necessarily spell the end for the Bourne franchise, though industry watchers may see things differently. Greengrass's involvement is thought to be crucial because he oversaw the series' two most recent instalments, 2004's The Bourne Supremacy and 2007's The Bourne Ultimatum, both of which were huge critical and commercial successes. The British director also has the backing of Damon. If both men refused to work on the fourth Bourne movie, the franchise would appear to be in serious trouble.

"Jason Bourne existed before me and will continue, and I hope to remain involved in some capacity as the series moves on," said Greengrass in the statement. "You won't find a more devoted supporter of the Bourne franchise than me.

"I will always be grateful to have been the caretaker to Jason Bourne over the course of The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum. I'm very proud of those films and feel they express everything I most passionately believe about the possibility of making quality movies in the mainstream.

"My decision to not return a third time as director is simply about feeling the call for a different challenge. There's been no disagreement with Universal Pictures. The opportunity to work with the Bourne family again is a difficult thing to pass up, but we have discussed this together and they have been incredibly understanding and supportive. I've been lucky enough to have made four films for Universal, and our relationship continues."

According to Playlist's original report, Greengrass's decision to depart was fuelled by his disappointment over Universal's alleged failure to consult him over its hiring of a new writer to work on the movie, which had been scheduled for release in 2011. Joshua Zetumer was reportedly given the task of penning a "parallel screenplay" due to concerns that official scribe George Nolfi, who co-wrote Bourne Ultimatum, had his hands full with his directorial debut, The Adjustment Bureau.

Playlist's article suggested that Universal and Greengrass were also at odds over another matter – the film-maker's current project, Iraq war thriller Green Zone, also starring Damon, had gone considerably overbudget, costing the studio $150m (£90m).


Ben Child

The GuardianTramp

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