The Fast and the Furious franchise has already ponied up for a fourth installment, so it should come as no surprise — in totally old news, industry-wise — that Universal has struck deals with Matt Damon and director Paul Greengrass on a fourth Jason Bourne picture. Last summer’s The Bourne Ultimatum did so well — $227 million domestically, and another $215 million abroad — that it was pretty much a no-brainer, even though the narrative arc of the current trilogy is pretty well settled.
The Bourne series is that rarest of commodities — a genre series with downhill, increasing commercial momentum and upmarket critical appeal. The first flick did $213 million theatrically worldwide in 2002, and played as particularly fresh and real the first summer after the September 11 attacks; two years later, with Greengrass subbing in for the crazy… err, idiosyncratic originating director, Doug Liman, the second film did just under $290 million. Each film sold butt-loads (that’s a measurable unit of sale in Hollywood, for the record) of DVDs too. Add in the fact that distributor Universal is a total whore for anything with a faint whiff of franchise appeal (see the Mummy flicks, the execrable Evan Almighty, and this summer’s The Incredible Hulk reboot, the latter coming less than five years after Ang Lee’s version), and you have all the reasons in the world (or at least in Hollywood) one needs to back a couple trucks full of money up to the houses of the guys who’ve actually made Universal some consistent coin the last half dozen years. No word yet on the release date for the fourth Bourne flick (summer 2009, I assume), but here’s hoping they, in the words of Bono, “go away and dream it all up again.”