Although Tom Clancy seems to have found a nice home for his novels at Paramount Pictures--the studio has already turned two of his blockbusters, "The Hunt for Red October" and the recent "Patriot Games," into hit films and they're currently working on a third installment, "A Clear and Present Danger"--it's not necessarily a permanent residence. Sources say his latest book, "The Sum of All Fears," will most likely end up at Paramount, but the studio has other plans in case it doesn't.
According to Mace Neufeld, the producer behind the first two films, it's a distinct possibility that a project could be developed with CIA analyst Jack Ryan and other Clancy characters in a studio-generated screenplay. "It could happen," says Neufeld. "It's not an unusual situation. It's more the rule of thumb."
(A studio spokesman says that Paramount does indeed have the rights to make a movie using the Jack Ryan character--with or without a Clancy novel attached.)
And while Clancy insists that there are currently no negotiations under way with Paramount regarding "The Sum of All Fears," he would prefer a Paramount sequel from his own work rather than from a studio-generated sequel. "It would certainly be better for me," he admits. "And I think it's a pretty good possibility that the book will end up with the same people."
But what if "The Sum of All Fears" does end up at a rival studio? According to Neufeld, there are contractual provisions that would prevent another studio from releasing a Tom Clancy/Jack Ryan movie based on a book at the same time that Paramount was releasing their own Jack Ryan movie. "Even so," says Neufeld, "the fact is that's the least desirable scenario."
Neufeld admits he'd rather have Clancy's next book than starting from scratch. "It's obviously better position to be in," he says. "You're starting off with a built-in audience with people who are fans of the book. Who wouldn't want that?"