The world premiere of Paul Greengrass’ Green Zone was held last night in New York, and being the third collaboration between the director and Matt Damon, questions were flying in regards to the future of the Jason Bourne franchise. Back in November, it was reported that Greengrass walked from a possible fourth film over script disagreements, and Damon then followed, saying that without Greengrass, he would not be involved. Since then, Damon has thrown out the possibility of a prequel that would allow the studio to find a new actor for the role. So what is the final verdict on Damon and Greengrass’ future with the franchise? Sorry, fans. It’s not good news.
Speaking with journalists (including yours truly) in separate round table interviews, both the director and the actor confirmed that they would not be involved with Bourne 4. This might leave you asking, “Why is this news?” It’s news because the initial reports weren’t entirely accurate.
When asked about events that led to his leaving the project, Greengrass said that reports about disagreement between himself and the studio were entirely untrue, rather that it was a personal decision that he made, after serious contemplation, to move on with his career.
…Contrary to reports, there was never an argument with the studio of any kind at all. …I did spend some time thinking that I might [take on the project], and sort of getting myself to a place, you know, ‘what would it be,’ and that was really it. It’s only when you do that that you actually find, ‘you know what? I’m sort of gone. I’m on top of things.’ We had a really nice discussion, they were completely understanding, and I said, ‘You know what? We’ll make some other movies.’”
Unfortunately, the news regarding Damon’s unwillingness to commit to a fourth film without Greengrass was accurate. He did, however, divulge details about the prequel idea, comparing it to the way the face of James Bond has changed over the last 38 years.
I think that they have a good way to do a prequel with someone else, and basically make it about the Bourne identity, the actual identity. What any studio is interested in is making it like an evergreen, so it can just go on, and on, and on, and it never will with our character because he’s going to resolve himself and he’s resolved his issues now. He’s got his memory back three times. I don’t think anybody wants to see me say, “I don’t remember” again. But I think what we could do, is like, you know, so you can do some movies with another actor, anyway, whether it’s Ryan Gosling or Russell Crowe or Denzel Washington, and he’s Jason Bourne. And then at the end of his one movie, or two movies, or three movies, you see them getting ready to pass the identity on to me, so it just becomes like a 007, it becomes a name that they give this certain person who’s uniquely positioned. Right? And so then, if Paul and I come back and do a fourth one in 10 years, right, we’ll pass it on to someone else, and then it can kind of go on.
Just because the Bourne series has ended for the two, it does not mean that they are done working together, in fact, quite the opposite. According to Greengrass, when asked about future projects, he mentioned that the two would continue to team up, and Damon expanded on that, saying that they are currently thinking about a film based on the current financial crisis, but they have yet to “figure out what the way in is.”
Though Greengrass has to somewhat share Damon with Steven Soderbergh, the pair have made three dynamic films in the last six years. While it is unfortunate that the franchise will be losing two key components that directly correlated with the films’ success, it is hard to argue with a director who wants the opportunity to spread his wings and a star’s loyalty to a man he believes knows the franchise’s true direction. What can be said is that without the two of them, it stands to be a whole new ballgame.