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Screenwriters Hired for Robert Ludlum Adaptation ‘The Sigma Protocol’

Written by on January 12, 2012 

Back in October, it was reported that Universal was moving forward on The Janson Directive, an adaptation of a thriller by Bourne author Robert Ludlum. That project is, by all accounts, still moving forward with the studio, but they’ve also made movement on one of their several planned Ludlum adaptations in the meantime.

As Deadline tells us, Rocky director Irwin Winkler and Jose Ruisanchez will pen a film version of The Sigma Protocol, which the former will also produce, alongside Jeffrey Weiner and Ben Smith of Captivate Entertainment. The story they’re adapting follows “a man who, while vacationing in Switzerland, runs into an old friend,” watching “as the guy turns homicidal and guns down six people.” After getting “plunged into a conspiracy and [running] for his life,” he finds that a female federal agent may be his “only hope of survival from a ruthless assassin.”

Winkler said the following on Sigma:

“What we are really hoping to do is create a franchise, built around this ordinary guy who gets caught up in international intrigue, and who teams with this operative who is declared a rogue by the CIA. Unlike Bourne, who is a trained assassin, this is an innocent guy traveling in Europe who gets in way over his head. And it has all the great Ludlum intrigue.”

I’ll admit that the gist of this quote holds some appeal for myself; the franchise angle of the Bourne films — specifically, how it played out over three films, and will continue in this summer’s reboot — was one of the finest examples of such in the past decade. Now, having never read a page of Ludlum‘s work I can’t speak to how much of this plotting was the result of the author, though I’ll take Universal’s insistence on bringing his work to the screen as a positive sign. Then again, all that money made with three Matt Damon movies is as good a motivator as any…

Here’s a longer synopsis of the book, from Amazon:

“Ben Hartman is vacationing in Zurich, Switzerland when he chances upon his old friend Jimmy Cavanaugh—a madman who’s armed and programmed to assassinate. In a matter of minutes, six innocent bystanders are dead. So is Cavanaugh. But when his body vanishes, and his weapon mysteriously appears in Hartman’s luggage, Hartman is plunged into an unfathomable nightmare…

Meanwhile, Anna Navarro, field agent for the Department of Justice, has been asked to investigate the sudden, random deaths of eleven men throughout the world. The only thing that connects them? A secret file, over a half-century old, that’s linked to the CIA—and is marked with the same puzzling codename: Sigma.

As Anna follows the connecting thread—and Hartman finds himself on the run—she ends up in the shadows of a relentless killer who is one step ahead of her…victim by victim. Now, she and Hartman together must uncover the diabolical secrets long held behind Sigma. It will threaten everything they think they know about themselves—and confirm their very worst fears…”

Have you read the original novel? Do you think it could translate to the screen?

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