Denzel Joins Ludlum’s Matarese Film

Since the success of “The Bourne Identity”, studios have been looking to turn the other twenty-two books of best-selling espionage author Robert Ludlum into film properties. Now they’ve found one.

This week studios are being pitched a film version of Ludlum’s 1979 novel “The Matarese Circle” says The Hollywood Reporter. What’s causing a lot of attention is that Denzel Washington is already attached to play one of the two male leads.

The story revolves around two secret agents – an American and a Russian – who must work together to fight a mysterious group of killers known as the Matarese. The twist: The agents, Bradley Scofield and Vasili Taleniekov, have been nemeses for years, with each responsible for killing someone close to the other.

Washington will play Scofield. The book marks the only novel by Ludlum, with the exception of the Bourne trilogy, to have a sequel – 1997’s “The Matarese Countdown”.

Michael Brandt and Derek Haas (“3:10 to Yuma,” “Wanted”) adapted the script which Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Nick Wechsler will produce. Several studios are keenly interested in the pitch but no deal has yet been struck.

Previous attempts to adapt other Ludlum works haven’t been successful – from Sam Peckinpah’s much maligned final film “The Osterman Weekend” to John Frankenheimer’s “The Holcroft Covenant”.

Leonardo DiCaprio remains attached to a film version of Ludlum’s “The Chancellor Manuscript” but that project has been stalled in development for two years.