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Steven Spielberg Interested in Directing a Matt Helm Movie? Updated!

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July 30, 2009

Steven Spielberg

An interesting story about the one-and-only Steven Spielberg has popped up today on Variety. They're reporting that Spielberg is "seriously considering" directing a project tentatively called Matt Helm. Helm is based on a series of 27 novels written by Donald Hamilton about a government agent whose mission is to take down enemy agents. While the novels were set in the post-WWII Cold War era, the current script is set in the present. The latest draft of the script, written by Paul Attanasio (Sphere, The Sum of All Fears, The Good German), was what sparked Spielberg's recent interest in the project. I like the sound of it so far.

The reason why Spielberg isn't confirmed for this yet is because Matt Helm is one of the (many) projects that were left behind at Paramount when DreamWorks split from the company late last year. Therefore, if Spielberg were to come on and direct, they would need to work out a lot of major issues between the two companies as well as DreamWorks' new finance partner. Whatever happens, Spielberg will still produce in the end, along with screenwriters Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci. Paramount is interested in making the movie, in hopes of launching a franchise, but might go with a less expensive filmmaker over Spielberg.

Wikipedia describes Matt Helm as "a U.S. government counter-agent—a man whose primary job is to kill or nullify enemy agents—not a spy or secret agent in the ordinary sense of the term as used in spy thrillers." The closest Spielberg comparison I can make is Minority Report, considering that dealt with an "agent" of sort whose job it was to prevent murders, although there was plenty of agent nullifying going on near the end. Obviously Matt Helm won't be set in the future, but I expect it to have a similar feel. To be honest, I'll be excited for whatever it is Spielberg directs next, whether it's Lincoln, Indiana Jones 5, or Matt Helm.

Update: Not long after this news hit, Mike Fleming on Variety got an update on the situation. Apparently Spielberg will not be directing Matt Helm, only producing it. "Paramount will go out to other directors." Spielberg is expected to choose his next directing gig soon, "and the film he chooses will have DreamWorks / Reliance aboard as co-financier and Disney as co-distributor." I wonder who they'll get for this instead?

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  • Marty
    Dean Martin played Matt Helm if four movies in the mid too late 60,s. All every tough in cheek stuff, and fun for it's time. The problem with making this sort of spy type movie now days is it will always get compared to the 'Bourne' movies. If it's done as a comedy of any sorts, then it will get compared to the 'Powers movies. If Speilberg takes it on, then hopefully he will indeed do something different with it.
  • Dave Lister, JMC
    What about Abe Lincoln; or Indiana Jones and the Purveyors of the Tie-in Merchandise?
  • LINKFX
    Spielberg knows how to make a great thriller/adventure, I'll give him that. But his take on assassins in Munich was a dark and somber one, very realistic. Will the killing in this be popcorn or will it be realistic and moral? I doubt he'll direct it. Probably end up producing it, he needs to spend more time making the important movies he has left in him and not focus on commercial dreck like this. Make Lincoln, I may be a bit biased in that regard, though :)
  • Quanah
    I hope Spielberg stays away from this. This is "in-the-pocket" for him, and what he needs is a challenge. Kind of like when he directed "The Color Purple". He needs something unexpected, otherwise his audience is just going to get bored, imho.
  • Xerxex
    whats with that picture of S.S. did he fall or something? or did an E.T. come back and surprise him?
  • David Banner
    In the picture, it looks like Spielberg is lying down directing :) I wish I had some suggestions for what Spielberg could direct next (lol), but I do hope he doesnt 'waste too much time' on this Matt Helm stuff. Maybe after Indy5, Lucas could get him to direct episodes seven, eight and nine? :)

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