Looks like the fourth Bourne movie is moving forward with all the single-minded determination of its title character, after Universal hired a new writer to board the franchise.

Josh Zetumer, who’s currently also slaving away on the screenplay for the Dune remake, has been charged with the thorny task of coming up with a fresh storyline and direction for a series that, with the best will in the world, looked like it had come to a natural end with The Bourne Ultimatum.

He’s replaced George Nolfi, one of the writers on Ultimatum. Nolfi was writing Bourne 4 along with another Matt Damon vehicle, the Philip K. Dick adaptation, The Adjustment Bureau. But with a September date looming for the latter, a sci-fi flick that he also plans to direct, Nolfi had to prioritise The Adjustment Bureau over Bourne.

Rather than wait for Nolfi to finish up and return to the script, Universal brought in Zetumer to write a completely different screenplay. After all, with a franchise this lucrative, time is of the essence.

But the story isn’t finished – Universal still hopes that Nolfi will finish his screenplay in due course, and will then make a decision on how best to proceed. Do they merge the two? Do they plump for one over the other?

It all seems pretty haphazard. As The Hollywood Reporter points out, though, operating parallel scripts is an increasingly common practice in Tinseltown. However, the track records of films operating said practice – Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surfer, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Star Trek: Bloody Generations, X-Men: The Last Stand – is hardly inspiring.

Then again, the Bourne movies have all been made, somewhat famously, on the fly, with rewrites and reshoots taking place virtually up until release. So this might fit in perfectly with the series’ ethos.

Certainly, I wish Zetumer well. If he can come up with a great story, good enough to secure the involvement of Damon and Paul Greengrass, then we’ll be delighted.

Frank Marshall and Jeffrey Weiner are producing the movie.

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