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Universal to adapt Ludlum novel

Studio brings 'Sigma Protocol' to bigscreen

Universal has put the adaptation of Robert Ludlum’s “The Sigma Protocol” on the front burner.

The studio has hired “Iron Man” scribes Art Marcum and Matt Holloway to pen the screenplay based on the late author’s novel, published in 2001. Universal also has brought in Strike Entertainment partners Marc Abraham and Eric Newman to produce the film with Paul L. Sandberg.

“The Sigma Protocol” revolves around a young investment banker who discovers a secret organization that has been manipulating the global economy. When the banker tries to expose the scheme, he’s targeted for death.

U acquired the material in 2002, months before the release of “The Bourne Identity” film, and had several drafts written. Marcum and Holloway had their own take and will work from that.

The writers will adapt “The Sigma Protocol” before they begin writing a remake of “Highlander.” They also scripted Paramount’s upcoming “Convoy.”

U also is laying the groundwork for a fourth “Bourne” pic, with Paul Greengrass directing and Matt Damon starring.

The success of the “Bourne” franchise has turned the late author into a revenue machine. Ludlum’s “The Chancellor Manuscript” was sold to Par in 2005 for $4 million, with producers Douglas Wick and Lucy Fisher developing it with Appian Way as a star vehicle for Leonardo DiCaprio. MGM and Relativity Media spent $3 million earlier this year to beat out other studios — including Universal — to acquire Ludlum’s 1979 espionage thriller “The Matarese Circle,” with Denzel Washington attached to star and “3:10 to Yuma” scribes Michael Brandt and Derek Haas penning the adaptation.

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