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Cronenberg Enters Matarese Circle

By Garth Franklin Wednesday October 8th 2008 12:07AM

David Cronenberg is in negotiations to helm the film adaptation of Robert Ludlum's political thriller "The Matarese Circle" for MGM reports the trades.

The helmer, in the midst of a career resurrgence with acclaimed dramas "A History of Violence" and "Eastern Promises", would adapt the work by the late "Bourne Identity" series author that is being set up as a potential franchise.

In the 1979 book, two rival intelligence agents -- one American, one Soviet -- find themselves working together to ferret out and vanquish members of a mysterious group of criminals called the Matarese that has infiltrated the highest levels of the world's governments.

Denzel Washington is already attached as the American agent. Michael Brandt and Derek Haas ("Wanted," "3:10 to Yuma") have adapted the screenplay which would mark Cronenberg's first big-budget action feature.

MGM and Relativity Media picked up the rights to the book earlier this year for $4 million, but Relativity is no longer involved. The pair did not acquire the rights to Ludlum's 1997 sequel novel "The Matarese Countdown".

Other film projects in the works based on Ludlum's books include "The Chancellor Manuscript" at Paramount, "The Sigma Protocol" along with a fourth "Bourne" film at Universal, and "The Osterman Weekend" at Summit.

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