Image Credit: Jasin Boland[/caption]

The recent history of the lucrative Bourne franchise involves a tangle of intrigue that’s nearly as compelling as the movies themselves. 2007’s The Bourne Ultimatum solved the trilogy’s central problem — Jason Bourne’s identity — and Matt Damon and director Paul Greengrass subsequently disengaged themselves from the series. Universal and the Robert Ludlum estate had no desire to call it quits, though, and approached the trilogy’s screenwriter, Tony Gilroy, to develop a fourth installment. Gilroy, who earned a Best Director nomination in 2007 for Michael Clayton, signed on, and The Bourne Legacy was, um, born. It went on to pull in $230 million worldwide and laid the groundwork for a follow-up (to which Jeremy Renner is contractually obligated).

But the looming question remains: will Damon make a comeback? Probably not, so long as Gilroy’s attached to direct. Damon publicly trounced Gilroy’s Ultimatum script in a GQ profile (he later apologized) and has repeatedly expressed his loyalty to Greengrass; Gilroy, for his part, alleges that he hasn’t spoken to Damon in years. Now, Damon tells Movieline that the odds of his return haven’t improved.

“There has not been any movement,” Damon said. “I’ve always been open to it as long as Paul Greengrass directs, I don’t think he’s going to do it.” He added that he’s still attracted to the character, but reiterated his point that the closure in Ultimatum presents a problem for further development: “Where do you go next?”

Damon’s comments shouldn’t necessarily be construed as a definitive No. In the same interview, he admits that he’d “really love to do another one because I love the character,” so perhaps his statements are just an expression of solidarity with Greengrass in what could eventually become a complex negotiation with Universal. (Would they pull the franchise from Gilroy to pacify the star?) The original Bourne trilogy grossed nearly $1 billion worldwide, and Damon has to realize he holds all the cards.

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