Tom Clancy struck box-office gold amid a gray Hollywood outlook
“Giving your book to Hollywood,” Tom Clancy once said, “is like turning your daughter over to a pimp.”
The prolific novelist who died Tuesday was not always a fan of the film business, even though his collaborations with the industry all found commercial and critical success. “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit,” which will be released this Christmas by Paramount Pictures, marks only the fifth movie based on the author’s characters.
Like previous movies based on Clancy’s novels, the new film will center on the fast-rising CIA officer fending off global threats — so far, he’s tackled nuclear weaponry, drug-smuggling conspiracies and other forms of villainy. Clancy was known for his detailed attention to military technology, and it often played a strong supporting role in his films.
The first movie in the Jack Ryan series is arguably the author’s best-known adaptation — 1990’s “The Hunt for Red October,” based on Clancy’s first published work. The film starring Sean Connery and Alec Baldwin was a blockbuster, grossing about $200 million worldwide and even winning an Oscar for its sound effects. (Baldwin, the first actor to portray the iconic character, tweeted early Wednesday that Clancy was a “real gentleman of the old school.”)
Harrison Ford would go on to take over the Jack Ryan role in 1992’s “Patriot Games” and 1994’s “Clear and Present Danger,” each of which also did massive business. It was nearly a decade before the CIA analyst turned up at the multiplex again — this time played by Ben Affleck in 2002’s “The Sum of All Fears,” the least well-reviewed of any of Clancy’s adaptations, but no less popular with moviegoers.
Despite his films’ strong ticket sales, Clancy remained ambivalent about Hollywood. He disliked the slow pace at which movies were made, questioning why it took so long for screenwriters to pen a 120-page script when he could churn out a 1,200-page manuscript in five months.
“We all know that time is money,” he told The Times in a 1995 interview. “Well, by God, time really is money in Hollywood, and yet the Hollywood process wastes a colossal amount of time unnecessarily.”
Clancy also frequently sparred with Paramount, which released all of his Jack Ryan movies. He was not allowed to weigh in creatively on his first three movie adaptations and he nearly took the franchise to another studio before Paramount made him a full partner on the series.
Though “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” will still feature the character Clancy created, the action thriller is based on an original story from “Mission: Impossible” screenwriter David Koepp. The film follows Ryan (Chris Pine) as he tries to uncover a Russian terrorist plot while still maintaining his relationship with his fiancée (Keira Knightley).
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