In a landmark move, Universal Pictures have signed award-winning Chinese filmmaker Zhang Yimou (The Flowers Of War) to direct their planned film adaptation of Robert Ludlum’s The Parsifal Mosaic. According to Deadline, this collaboration will mark the first time a mainland Chinese director has signed on for an English-language film for a US film studio.
Zhang Yimou – a director, producer, actor, writer and former cinematographer – is no stranger to the concept of blazing a trail. In 1990, his film Ju Dou became the first Chinese movie to be nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award. More recently, he directed both the opening and closing ceremonies for the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympic Games.
The Parsifal Mosaic has been in development at Universal for some time. Quickly becoming a bestseller for author Robert Ludlum after it was published in 1982, it tells the story of Robert Havelock – a US State Department Intelligence Officer – who believes he has witnessed the murder of his beloved girlfriend along the Costa Brava, after she is proven to be a KGB Double Agent. Later, when he discovers she is still alive, events spiral out of control as a greater, more insidious conspiracy is revealed.
The project is still very much in the early stages of development, with the most recent script draft completed by David Self (Thirteen Days, Road To Perdition, The Wolfman). A further draft is set to be written under the supervision of Yimou. Ron Howard and Brian Grazer of Imagine Entertainment will be on producing duty, along with Jeffrey Weiner and Ben Smith of Captivate.
With Universal’s film adaptation of the Ludlum Bourne saga having long-since hit the $1 billion international box office mark, it looks like the studio is setting The Parsifal Mosaic up for the start of another espionage-fuelled spy-film thrill-ride with franchise potential.