Universal wanted another “Bourne” movie from director Paul Greengrass and star Matt Damon so bad, they even gave the duo a cool $100 million to make their Iraq War bomb “Green Zone”. This, at a time when anyone with half a brain cell knew that Iraq War films were box office poison. The film would go on to earn $94 million worldwide, the majority of that from overseas box office, and was a bona fide flop.
As it turns out, Universal didn’t get their “Bourne” sequel after all, with Greengrass saying adios to the franchise, and Damon, apparently in love with the idea of only starring in a “Bourne” film for his pal Greengrass, following suit. With the three “Bourne” movies having combined for nearly $1 billion in worldwide box office, the studio was, understandably, anxious to make another one.
Enter Tony Gilroy, a writer on all three “Bourne” films, and actor Jeremy Renner.
Gilroy came up with an idea for a fourth movie, one that would acknowledge everything that had transpired in the three previous “Bourne” entries, but not star Damon. Renner was then added as the franchise’s new star, another Government killer ala Damon’s Jason Bourne, but this one named Aaron Cross. Essentially a Bourne movie without Bourne. Renner recently talked about the “Legacy” here.
As filming on “The Bourne Legacy” nears, it apparently has gotten under Damon’s skin, and the actor recently blasted Gilroy to GQ magazine, using Gilroy’s work on “The Bourne Ultimatum” as the hammer:
I don’t blame Tony [Gilroy] for taking a boatload of money and handing in what he handed in. It’s just that it was unreadable. This is a career-ender. I mean, I could put this thing up on eBay and it would be game over for that dude. It’s terrible. It’s really embarrassing. He was having a go, basically, and he took his money and left.
Translation: Gilroy’s script for “Ultimatum” suck, thus, “Legacy” will suck as well.
Gilroy wrote the original script for “Ultimatum”, but once Greengrass arrived on the scene, the script was reworked with drafts from George Nolfi and Scott Z. Burns. But Gilroy still gets screen credit, and to hear the Universal suits tell it, there wouldn’t have been an “Ultimatum” without Gilroy banging out the original story and getting the ball rolling.
Damon seems to have backtracked on his anti-Gilroy statements a tad, though. In a new interview, he seems to soften a bit in terms of animosity towards the writer/director:
My feelings were hurt. That’s all. And that’s exactly why I shouldn’t have said anything. This is between me and him. So saying anything publicly is f—ing stupid and unprofessional and just kind of douchey of me.
So why was he so pissed off when he gave that GQ interview? Apparently while he was shooting Neill Blomkamp’s “Elysium”, the production offices for “The Bourne Legacy” began popping up around him. Ouch. He tells THR:
I was seeing this every day, and then I came back to New York and did this interview and kind of blurted it out. … It was idiotic of me to say anything. At the end of the day, it’s between me and Tony, and we’ll figure it out or we won’t.
As to Damon’s future with the Bourne franchise? He’s soften on that as well. Kinda.
I think if [Bourne Legacy] doesn’t work, we can just ignore it and pretend it didn’t happen, and that’d be fine. But I expect that it will work and only help us if we did another one, which I’d love to do.
But there’s a caveat: Damon still won’t return without Greengrass.
Of course, whether Universal goes begging to Damon and Greengrass to return to the fold will depend almost entirely on how Gilroy and Renner’s “The Bourne Legacy” performs. If the film proves to be a hit sans the headaches of Damon and Greengrass, I suspect Universal won’t worry too much about a Damon-less Bourne franchise. If it bombs, or doesn’t flex the same box office muscle as the three previous films, then Mister Damon will be able to call his shots.