Paramount Pictures has settled on Christmas 2013 as the launch date for the next installment in the Jack Ryan franchise, with such big names as Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford, and Ben Affleck having previously occupied the role (as based on the character featured in Tom Clancy's source novels).
The project is now officially referred to as Jack Ryan, following the example of this fall's Alex Cross - another reboot which goes back further in time than previous installments to chronicle the "origins" of its titular protagonist. Chris Pine is stepping in to portray the youthful Ryan; much like the actor's take on James Kirk in Star Trek, his rebooted version of the Clancy protagonist is expected to diverge from previous incarnations.
Jack Ryan endured numerous script revisions, production start delays, and budgetary issues throughout pre-production, culminating with Jack Bender's departure as director (he's since moved on to the Max Brooks' sci-fi project, Devolution). David Koepp managed to complete a draft of the screenplay that satisfied all concerned parties from both an artistic and financial perspective, leading to Kenneth Branagh (Thor) being instated as the new helmer.
The Shakespeare maestro's decision to board Jack Ryan turned out to be exactly what the doctor ordered, as far as progress on the reboot is concerned. News that Branagh cast himself as the villain - a Russian financial terrorist, whose plans to ruin the U.S. economy can only be foiled by a pre-CIA Ryan - was released a few months later. The following weeks brought confirmation that Keira Knightley is playing Ryan's wife in what could feasibly be the start of a trilogy.
Perhaps the most intriguing Jack Ryan-related story to break over the past month concerns Kevin Costner portraying William Harper. The character (a mentor of sorts to Ryan) will appear in Branagh's film. However, Paramount also plans for Costner to reprise the role in another Clancy adaptation, Without Remorse, thus serving as a connective tissue for a Tom Clancy Movie Universe - similar to how Nick Fury links The Avengers to the rest of the Marvel Movie Universe.
It's a newly-popularized approach to franchise construction, now that The Avengers has demonstrated it can be done successfully. Paramount is proceeding carefully by hiring a revered storyteller like Branagh to start things off on the right foot with Jack Ryan; another celebrated filmmaker, Christopher McQuarrie, is already being eyed to take charge on Without Remorse (with The Dark Knight Rises' Tom Hardy among the candidates being eyed to star).
Hardy appeared alongside Pine in the spy comedy This Means War earlier this year. He is currently filming Mad Max: Fury Road (see: his impressive beard, in the picture below) and has upcoming projects like The Long Red Road vying for his attention, so a reunion with Pine on the Jack Ryan franchise isn't a guarantee for the busy actor.
Jack Ryan will have competition when it opens on December 25th next year, in the forms of the delayed Keanu Reeves 3D Samurai epic 47 Ronin and the Ben Stiller comedy remake The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. There may be some overlap between the former two, but Branagh's film has an advantage - it will appeal not only to action-hungry moviegoers, but also those looking for what (in theory) could be an intelligent, character-driven, espionage tale.
Source: Paramount [via Exhibitor Relations]