With "The Da Vinci Code" author Dan Brown's news Tuesday morning that he would be releasing a new Robert Langdon adventure in May, we thought it wise to check in with the movie prospects for Brown's last Langdon tale, "The Lost Symbol," which resided on the New York Times hard-cover fiction bestseller list for 29 weeks and has 30 million copies in print worldwide.
Sony's Columbia Pictures, which released the previous two films, "The DaVinci Code" and "Angels and Demons," owns the option to all of Brown's future projects involving Langdon, including "The Lost Symbol" and the upcoming "Inferno."
The studio has been developing the 2009 book with Imagine Entertainment even though director Ron Howard, who helmed the first two pictures and co-owns the production company, bowed out of directing this one.
"The DaVinci Code" was a huge hit when it opened in 2006, earning close to $758 million worldwide. Its successor, "Angels and Demons," was not nearly as profitable, yet still generated close to $486 million in 2009. Both films were poorly reviewed, yet that did nothing to curb the Christian-themed travelogues' box office appeal. Perhaps the involvement of a new creative team could infuse fresh life into the internationally themed tales.
Danny Strong ("Game Change") was hired last March to adapt the novel after Howard dropped out of the production. Sources say Strong is expected to turn in a draft of the script in the next few weeks, and the filmmakers are expecting to be in pre-production this year. Director Mark Romanek ("Never Let Me Go"), who was rumored to be developing the film with an eye to direct, is still attached to the project and is awaiting the draft.
The other wild card involves Tom Hanks' schedule. The actor, who portrayed Langdon in the first two movies, recently finished playing Walt Disney in "Saving Mr. Banks" from director John Lee Hancock and Capt. Richard Phillips in Paul Greengrass' "Captain Phillips." Hanks is scheduled to premiere on Broadway in April in the late writer Nora Ephron's play "Lucky Guy."
Columbia hasn't yet seen Brown's new novel, which will feature Langdon's return to Italy to investigate Dante's classic work "The Inferno" but is hoping to shortly.
In a release from publisher Doubleday, Brown says, "Although I studied 'Dante’s Inferno' as a student, it wasn’t until recently, while researching in Florence, that I came to appreciate the enduring influence of Dante’s work on the modern world. With this new novel, I am excited to take readers on a journey deep into this mysterious realm ... a landscape of codes, symbols, and more than a few secret passageways.”