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Dwayne Johnson's Janson Directive to launch Ludlum movie universe

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Dwayne Johnson and James Vanderbilt have a new directive to bring more of Robert Ludlum’s spy thrillers to the big screen for Universal Pictures.

EW can confirm that the studio has closed a deal with Captivate Entertainment and Mythology to produce an interconnected cinematic universe based on Ludlum’s novels, beginning with an adaptation of The Janson Directive starring Johnson and scripted by Vanderbilt.

Ludlum, who died in 2001, was the author of 27 novels, including the books that inspired Universal’s Jason Bourne series.

Published a year after Ludlum’s passing, The Janson Directive follows a former black-ops agent turned private security contractor who is framed for a terrible crime and forced to team up with the protégé sent to kill him.

Johnson, who has been circling the project for two years, said in a statement, “The Janson Directive is classic Robert Ludlum. Sharp, edgy and layered storylines. The character is complex, conflicted, badass and lethal — I can’t wait to sink my teeth into this and bring him to life.”

In addition to starring, Johnson will serve as an executive producer.

Vanderbilt, who previously collaborated with Johnson on the 2003 movie The Rundown, will adapt Janson from a story co-written with Akiva Goldsman. Vanderbilt will also co-write two more stories based on unspecified Ludlum novels, to be adapted into screenplays by other writers to be named.

“I’ve been obsessed with Robert Ludlum ever since I was a kid,” Vanderbilt said in a statement, “and the opportunity to play in this sandbox and create an interconnected universe based on the works of one of the best espionage writers of all time is a dream come true.”

Details have yet to emerge about what other Ludlum characters will be featured in the franchise, how their stories will intersect, and who will direct, but shared movie universes have become a priority for several Hollywood studios. Disney pioneered the concept with its Marvel movies, Warner Bros. is cultivating a DC Comics-based counterpart, and Universal is also working to unite its classic monsters on screen.

The Hollywood Reporter first reported the news.

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