Universal has made a deal with the estate of the late Robert Ludlum, creator of Jason Bourne, to secure all film rights to the Bourne character and novels and bags first dibs on other Ludlum characters.

So what, we hear you cry. Well, this leaves the way open for a continuing franchise, in the style of James Bond, with new stories being created around the character as the films go on. A fourth instalment in the franchise is already underway, with director Paul Greengrass and star Matt Damon already returning, and George Nolfi currently working on the script for a 2010 release.

 The deal also opens the way for many more adaptations of Ludlum’s work, since the estate – which has approval on screenplays and even actors and directors, since Ludlum was disappointed by several 1980s adaptations of his work – will be working on the studio lot. In the meantime, other upcoming Ludlum adaptations include The Matarese Circle, from David Cronenberg and Denzel Washington; The Chancellor Manuscript with Leonardo DiCaprio and The Osterman Weekend from director Simon Kinberg. Hmm, there’s a pattern to these titles, isn’t there?