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By most measures The Bourne Legacy did just fine this weekend, debuting to a $40.3 million domestic box office take and another $7.8 million from the smaller international countries (it's yet to open in most major international markets). It got so-so reviews from critics and a B CinemaScore, which is all, again, fine. But "fine" isn't exactly what a studio wants to hear about their splashy reboot of one of their most successful franchises, and "fine" isn't the kind of word that kicks off a new trilogy of films, or makes a bona fide action star out of someone like Jeremy Renner, who's yet to truly anchor a movie on his own appeal.
So is "fine" enough to keep the Bourne name alive? So far Universal, which produced and distributed the movie, seems to be hedging their bets; in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, Universal's president of of domestic distribution Nikki Rocco said "I'm happy," adding what can only be described as complete jargon: "I think the success of this weekend certainly gives us an opportunity to move forward and strategize about the direction in which to take this franchise." Wait, what?
Reading between the lines, Rocco basically seems to be saying "let's wait and see"-- a far cry from the kind of instant franchise rubber-stamping that happened the Monday after The Avengers opened, or even the confidence Lionsgate had going into The Hunger Games that a sequel was a foregone conclusion. Sure, it's slightly unfair to compare the new Bourne to the year's two biggest movies-- the books the Bourne movies are based on are far from the global successes of The Hunger Games or Marvel comics, and even the original Bourne series took a while to get going. In fact, the new release The Bourne Legacy made far more than the first installment, The Bourne Identity, made when it opened in 2002.
For a non-3D movie aimed largely at adults (despite the everyone-is-welcome PG-13 rating), $40 million is not bad at all--but for what was supposed to be the rebirth of one of the few franchises Universal has going for it, it's not enough. They have three options to move forward, really-- leave Bourne alone for good, push forward with another Renner-starring film, or in the least likely scenario, somehow talk Matt Damon into returning. It's not impossible-- Damon has hinted before that he and Paul Greengrass would at least consider returning-- but it's a delicate situation. How do you get people to pay to see a movie starring another hero, then immediately about-face and return to the other guy? And how do they know that, in the years since Bourne last appeared (in 2007), people haven't just lost interest in him?
So the future of Bourne remains unclear as we wait to see how Legacy does overseas, and whether or not the movie fades in memory as August goes forward. While we wait, though, let us know what you think. Does Jeremy Renner's Aaron Cross deserve more movies, or should they put the name Bourne on ice until they get Matt Damon back onscreen? Or should they just leave it alone entirely? Let us know in the comments below.