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Paul Haggis In Talks With Universal For Spy Film Franchise

Written by on June 25, 2011 

After his Russell Crowe actioner The Next Three Days somewhat underperformed at the box office late last year, Paul Haggis seems to be mostly sticking to writing at the moment, with one script for Michael Mann having been completed, in addition to a remake of a Spanish film being in the pipeline (although he may also direct). 24 Frames says that he’s in talks for another screenwriting project at Universal, one that would take him into the world of espionage.

That movie will be a film adaptation of the Gabriel Allon series of books, which have been penned by author Daniel Silva. The character of Allon is a former Mossad agent who “avenged the murder of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics earlier in his career,” but has retired to a life of art restoration. He’s still active, with him being asked to help out with the occasional assignment, many of which deal with “terrorists with ties to radical Islamic groups.”

The development of the project is still very early, and therefore we don’t yet know about Haggis directing in addition to writing — that is, if a deal even goes through. The plan on Universal’s part is to turn this into a franchise, a decision that’s said to be partially influenced by the success of the Bourne series, one that they will try to keep fresh by semi-rebooting it with Jeremy Renner in the lead. The main role is described as being a “meaty” one for an actor in their late 30’s or early 40’s, but no potential candidates have been mentioned as of now.

There are currently ten books in the series, with an eleventh to be published next month — they have plenty of room to make a franchise in a different medium. It hasn’t been revealed what this would be based off of, but there’s speculation that it could be an adaptation of the first novel in the series, The Kill Artist, or a combination of several installments. I could see them making the first book the main basis of the first movie – to set up the character and his history – while also taking a plotline from a later novel, in an attempt to mix things up a bit.

It’s a shame that something like this – a book series with a potentially interesting lead who goes on politically-tinged adventures – would get the movie treatment by Paul Haggis. While I don’t think that he’s the stunningly bad screenwriter that some others make him out to be, I feel that his work is somewhat lacking in the storytelling and (ahem) subtlety department. Just like with the Michael Mann film, his involvement in anything immediately makes me less interested in that project. If he can just stick strictly to the novels – which I admittedly have not read and thus have no knowledge of – then there might be some more hope to have in this whole thing.

Is Paul Haggis someone you want to adapt this series? Have you read any of the books, and do you think they could work as films?

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