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Updates on New Projects From Matt Damon and Ben Affleck

Matt Damon, Ben Affleck.

As we feared, Warner Bros. has finally dropped plans to make Matt Damon's untitled next movie about a small-town salesman — which he'd once intended to be his directorial debut — despite the fact that Gus Van Sant has come aboard to direct the film, which boasts an original script by Dave Eggers that was rewritten by Damon and John Krasinski. But despair not, McSweeney’s subscribers! We now also hear that Universal Pictures, eager for a rapprochement with the studio's itinerant Jason Bourne, is in negotiations with Damon and his team about backing and distributing the $15 million drama. If the deal closes as expected this month, it could be shooting by late April or early May, and potentially paves the way for Damon's signature franchise to be re-Bourne.

Meanwhile, just as Damon survived a global influenza pandemic last year in Contagion, his Pearl Street partner Ben Affleck is making progress on his own viral blockbuster: Stephen King’s The Stand, about survivors of a chemically weaponized super-flu. We hear that Affleck has hired screenwriter David Kajganich to pen the script after Kajganich wowed Warner Bros. with another recent King adaptation of the 1986 horror classic It – which, like The Stand, is being produced by Roy Lee and Doug Davison. Let's hope this goes better than the last produced outbreak drama Kadjanich wrote for WB: 2007's underperforming Nicole Kidman vehicle The Invasion.

Photo: Patrick McMullan