The character of Simon Templar from The Saint franchise hasn't been seen on the big screen since the 1997 movie adaptation starring Val Kilmer and Elisabeth Shue - a film that was a modest commercial success, but a critical dud. However, there was a time when the property (based on a series of books created by author Leslie Charteris) was almost as popular as James Bond - with a popular 1960s TV series version that served as a starmaking turn for (appropriately enough) eventual 007 actor Roger Moore.
Originating in Charteris' 1928 novel "Meet The Tiger", Simon Templar is a master criminal of unknown origin who operates as a globe-trotting Robin Hood - one who uses his criminal and con-artist skills to thwart the plans of unscrupulous buisnessmen, warmongers and other villains whose harmful actions are outside the grasp of traditional law enforcement (or the people they have hurt). He's known as "The Saint" thanks to a calling card of a stick figure sporting a halo that he leaves at the scene of his activities - and, of course, for adhering to a strict moral code and often judging is targets and/or their actions as "ungodly."
Variety is reporting that Paramount Pictures and legendary producer Robert Evans have now secured the rights to kickstart a new Saint film series based on the Simon Templar character. The new film (which has not yet attached a director, star or screenwriter) has come together as a joint project for Lorenzo di Bonaventura (Transformers), Brad Krevoy (Dumb and Dumber To) and Evans - who produced the Val Kilmer version and has held a portion of the book rights since. Bonaventura will serve as acting producer on the project through his self-named studio, which is affiliated with Paramount. Evans, who previously ran Paramount itself before seguing into producing, is credited as a driving force behind classics like The Godfather, Rosemary's Baby and Chinatown in the 1970s.
In addition to Roger Moore's best known turn as the title character, a series of Saint feature films was previously produced in the 1940s starring George Sanders. The Kilmer film, which also gave Templar an origin story for the first time, featured Elizabeth Shue as part of a convoluted conspiracy plot involving a formula for cold fusion. Its reviews were negative enough that Kilmer himself was nominated for a Golden Raspberry for Worst Actor (losing out to Kevin Costner for The Postman) and The Saint franchise was essentially put on ice thereafter.
There's been no indication yet of what the plot or direction of the new Saint film will be, or whether it will draw from Charteris' books or create an original story featuring Simon Templar. There are over fifty installments in the original Saint book series written by Charteris from 1928 to 1963, with other writers having taken over until the end of the run in 1983 (two new books were published in '97 to coincide with the movie). Two attempts were made in the last decade to launch new TV series based on the character, with neither progressing beyond the pilot phase.
We'll bring you more information on The Saint movie reboot as it becomes available.