Don Pendleton’s anti-terrorist operative Mack Bolan may finally be making his way to the big screen, after decades of failed attempts, now that Warner Bros. has acquired rights to the novel series and is developing it as a star vehicle for Bradley Cooper, with that actor’s Hangover helmer Todd Phillips potentially directing.
Shane Salerno, who is co-writing Avatar 4, acquired the rights to the iconic character from Pendleton’s estate. He’s set to pen the script for a Mack Bolan film as well as produce. The project will be Salerno’s next, as soon as he finishes up the Avatar fourquel with James Cameron. Days ago, he said that his goal with Mack Bolan was to create a “relevant, grounded and gritty, real-world, PG-13 action-drama film series,” with that character as the star of an initial trilogy.
Pendleton wrote 38 Mack Bolan books before handing the series over to a team of ghost writers. Over 500 Mack Bolan books have been written to date. Curiously, such a popular series has never made it to the big screen. In the ’70s, it was optioned as a star vehicle for Steve McQueen, and since then, it’s been developed by Burt Reynolds (who wanted Clint Eastwood to star), Sylvester Stallone (for himself to star) and Vin Diesel, though none of those three ever succeeded in pulling a project together.
Cooper, an Oscar-nominated A-lister, is highly in-demand right now, and he recently bulked up to play Navy SEAL Chris Kyle in American Sniper. Could Warner Bros. strike while the iron’s hot and get a Mack Bolan movie into production as soon as next year? If the studio is waiting for Phillips, as currently appears to be the case, WB will have to get in line – the director is next helming crime comedy Arms and the Dudes.
Cooper, too, is currently preoccupied with the film formerly known as Chef, then known as Adam Jones and now simply called Untitled John Wells Project, about a cocky chef working to make the best restaurant ever. Still, the idea of the actor heading up an action franchise has definite appeal.
We’ll keep you posted as more on a Mack Bolan movie franchise unfolds.