Thursday, July 30, 2009

New Film Series of Matt Helm Spy Thrillers under Development

Matt Helm Series by Donald Hamilton

Variety is reporting that Steven Spielberg is looking to develop a film (and possibly a franchise) based on the Matt Helm series of spy thrillers by Donald Hamilton. Hamilton wrote 27 novels featuring the character over a 33 year period, from 1960 through 1993, which were set in the early days of the Cold War. The new film is expected to be set in present day.

Four films based on the character were made in the 1960s with Dean Martin starring as Matt Helm, though these movies are considered parodies by many ... and of James Bond rather than Matt Helm. A 1975 television series was also developed, Matt Helm, with Tony Franciosa as the titular character, though this time as a retired spy who operates as a private investigator.

Dreamworks Studios, co-founded by Spielberg, optioned all the Matt Helm novels in 2002 but did little with them, leaving the rights to Paramount when the two companies split their partnership. (Dreamworks now has a long-term distribution deal with Disney.) According to Variety, Spielberg's ultimate participation, especially in terms of directing, "involves a series of complex issues that touch on the relationship between Paramount and Dreamworks."

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