Matt Helm project still kicking around at Paramount, THR says

Matt Helm: still waiting for another shot at the big screen

Paramount is still interested in a serious Matt Helm movie, according to Web site of The Hollywood Reporter.

In A STORY THIS WEEK, there was this nugget from an interview with Adam Goodman, president of Paramount Film Group:

Goodman faces his share of challenges as Paramount looks to make up for the defection of Marvel movies to Disney and the possible end of its relationship with DreamWorks Animation in December. Sitting down with THR recently in his spacious, bright corner office on the Melrose lot, he revealed that Tom Cruise likely is close to signing a deal to star in a Top Gun sequel and that Ehren Kruger has returned to write Transformers 4, even as Shia LaBeouf exits. He also disclosed that he’s moving ahead with franchise hopefuls Ripley’s Believe It or Not, Matt Helm, Earthseed, J.J. Abrams’ Micronauts and Without Remorse. (emphasis added)

No additional details about the Helm project, to be based on Donald Hamilton’s 27 published novels from 1960 to 1993. This is essentially the first whisper of any movement in three years. Back AT THAT TIME, there was talk that Steven Spielberg might be interested in producing, Gary Ross in directing and Bradley Cooper in starring.

None of that, obviously, happened. Spielberg has had multiple movies subsequently while Ross had a mega-hit with The Hunger Games. Cooper’s name surfaced as, for a time, the leading contender to play Napoleon Solo in a movie version of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. but that evaporated in the latest chapter of the U.N.C.L.E. curse.

Prospects for the first Helm movie since the four Dean Martin comedies of the 1960s? Personally, we suspect the new Titan Books editions of Hamilton’s novels will be out long before any film.

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Handicapping Bond 23, other spy movie projects

There are so many potential movie projects going on right now, it’s hard to keep track of them all — not only the number of potentials but the various roadblocks that may prevent them from becoming reality.

So, here’s a tentative look at the projects for various spies, including James Bond, the Impossible Missions Force, the United Network Command for Law and Enforcement and others:

Mission: Impossible 4: At one point, star Tom Cruise and studio Paramount Pictures had a falling out. Now, things have been supposedly patched up. J.J. Abrams was supposed to come back to direct, but then he wasn’t. In recent news, Brad Bird of The Incredibles supposedly was in final negotiations to direct M:I 4.

There has been one consistent point in various reports. Paramount reportedly wants the movie out in time for Memorial Day 2011. Also Paramount is on sound financial footing, at least compared to Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 007’s home studio. ODDS: 2-1.

Bond 23: Daniel Craig is seen as reinvigorating the 007 franchise so you’d think a third movie featuring Craig as Bond would be a natural. Ah, but, MGM, which controls half the franchise, is in financial trouble. Eon Productions apparently has Sam Mendes onboard as director. But Eon isn’t going to finance any movie and the production company, at least for now, is held hostage by MGM’s wheeling and dealing. ODDS: 4-1.

UPDATED: With the announcement that Eon has suspended development of Bond 23 because of uncertainty related to MGM, we have to revise this outlook.

NEW ODDS:10-1

New (serious) Matt Helm movie: This has been kicking around for awhile. Steven Spielberg reportedly was interested in directing, then he wasn’t. It’s a great idea, but there hasn’t a Matt Helm novel published since 1993 and his creator, Donald Hamilton, died in 2006, with an unpublished final novel on the shelf. We’ll believe it when we see it. ODDS: 10-1.

The Man From U.N.C.L.E. The Movie: There have been a ton of attempts to revive the 1960s television show that paired an American (Napoleon Solo, played by Robert Vaughn) and a Russian (Illya Kuryakin, played by David McCallum) as part of a multi-national security organization. This week word of another surfaced in The Hollywood Reporter and entertainment Web sites. We posted about this yesterday but it escaped our notice that the director mentioned with this project is David Dobkin, who directed the 2005 comedy “Wedding Crashers.”

As Peter Parker used to say, “My Spider Sense is tingling!” ODDS: 100-1.