Chris Pine seems to be a refreshingly candid interviewee – as demonstrated in a recent conversation with Moviefone while promoting Into The Woods, during which he responded to a question about changes from the source material with “I just don’t care enough.” With that in mind, his comments about his future within the Jack Ryan movie franchise are telling indeed. When asked about plans for a sequel, Pine pulled no punches.
“No. I don’t think it made enough money for that to happen. That’s one of my deep regrets – that we didn’t totally get that right. It’s a great franchise and if it’s not me then I hope it gets a fifth life at this point. It’s just great. I love the spy genre. I hope it’s done again and with a great story.”
Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit was released in January 2014, and saw Pine take over the Jack Ryan character that was originally created by author Tom Clancy. It was the fifth feature film to centre on the character, and Pine was the fourth actor to fill the role. However, the movie soon showed itself to be the lowest earning Jack Ryan film ever made.
The first film – The Hunt For Red October – was released in 1990 and starred Alec Baldwin as Ryan. Directed by John McTiernan (Die Hard), it earned $200 million against a $30 million budget, and was therefore regarded as a huge success. Unsurprisingly, producers moved quickly for a sequel, releasing Patriot Games in 1992. The first of two films to feature Harrison Ford in the role of Ryan, and Phillip Noyce (Salt) in the director’s chair, the film was given a slightly bigger budget of $45 million, and made $178 million at the box office. The follow-up by those filmmakers – Clear And Present Danger – arrived in 1994 with an even bigger budget of $62 million, and a box office haul of $216 million, ultimately making it the most successful of the franchise.
Despite the escalating success of the Jack Ryan movies, the character remained absent from theatres for eight years, returning in 2002 with Ben Affleck in the role, directed by Phil Alden Robinson. The Sum Of All Fears was made with a budget of $68 million, and eventually earned $194 million at the box office. The film was considered a higher commercial risk upon release because, while principal photography had wrapped in the early summer of 2001, it was the first film with scenes of violent terrorism to be released after the events of September 11th 2001. The fact that it generated such a large profit, in spite of the circumstances, meant it was widely regarded as a success.
It took twelve years to bring another Jack Ryan film to screen, however. Directed by Kenneth Branagh (who also starred in a supporting role), and written by first time screenwriter Adam Cozad, in collaboration with David Koepp (Angels And Demons), Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit starred Pine in the Ryan role, with Keira Knightley as the female lead. Although the film was also a significant part of the return of Academy Award winner Kevin Costner to high profile feature projects, those elements were not enough to carry the film beyond mixed reviews and relatively poor commercial performance. Against a $60 million budget, the film earned $135.5 million. While that indicates the project was still in profit, expectations had been much higher, given the iconic status of the franchise.
So, it seems that Chris Pine and Jack Ryan may have parted ways, making the character something of a cinematic franchise oddity. In modern productions, it has become the ‘norm’ for actors to fill a role for several films before being replaced (as with James Bond, and any current superhero franchise). With the exception of Joel Schumacher’s Batman films, it is relatively rare for an actor to move on after only one outing in a series character. Jack Ryan, however, appears to be the exception to that rule. In five films, Harrison Ford is the only person to have played him twice. While it is inevitable that the franchise will be rebooted again at some point in the future – given the abundance of the literary source material – it remains to be seen whether the casting of Jack Ryan will ever again be as successful as it was with Harrison Ford.