Tom Clancy, author of "The Hunt for Red October" and other novels in the Jack Ryan series, died last week at the age of 66, two months before the December 25 release of Paramount Pictures’ "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit."
Written by Adam Cozad and David Koepp ("Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull") and directed by Kenneth Branagh, "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit" stars Chris Pine as Clancy’s main hero, CIA analyst Jack Ryan. A second reboot (after 2002’s "The Sum of All Fears") of the Jack Ryan franchise, the new film is an original story with no connection with any of Clancy’s novels.
Though Clancy wrote 15 novels featuring Ryan and popular supporting character John Clark, he leaves behind a modest cinematic legacy. Including "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit," Hollywood has only made five movies based on the prolific author’s “Ryanverse.”
Per The Los Angeles Times, Clancy was unhappy with the way Hollywood treated his intricately plotted novels set in the high tech world of America’s military and intelligence communities.
“Giving your book to Hollywood,” Clancy once told an interviewer, “is like turning your daughter over to a pimp.”
Clancy’s first novel, "The Hunt for Red October," was adapted in 1990 by producer Mace Neufeld into a movie which starred Alec Baldwin as Jack Ryan and Sean Connery as Soviet defector Marko Ramius. Neufeld saw potential box office hits in Clancy’s work and quickly bought the rights to Red October and several other novels.
With a domestic gross of $120 million,the film version of "Red October" was a big hit for Paramount, according to Box Office Mojo, but Clancy did not have creative control and was displeased with many of the changes made by screenwriters Larry Ferguson and Donald Stewart.
When Harrison Ford took over the Jack Ryan role from Baldwin for 1992’s "Patriot Games," Clancy groused that Ford was too old to play his principal character.
Clancy was so disenchanted with the screen adaptations of his novels that he threatened to sell the rights to the Ryan franchise to another studio. He relented when Neufeld and Paramount named Clancy as co-executive producer of 2002’s 'The Sum of All Fears."
Even though 'Red October," "Patriot Games," "Clear and Present Danger" and "The Sum of All Fears" grossed over $800 million, the “father of the technothriler” criticized the slow pace of adapting novels.
Clancy, who on various occasions published two best-selling novels within a 12-month period, once told an interviewer that Hollywood took too long to develop adaptations.
“We all know that time is money,” Clancy told the Los Angeles Times in 1995. “Well, by God, time really is money in Hollywood, and yet the Hollywood process wastes a colossal amount of time unnecessarily.”
Paramount Home Entertainment has released the first four films based on Clancy's novels on DVD and Blu-ray in several editions. "The Hunt for Red October," "Patriot Games" and "Clear and Present Danger" DVDs were originally launched in 1998 with very few extras. Paramount re-issued them in 2003 in a box set titled The Jack Ryan Special Edition Collection. This set also includes "The Sum of All Fears" and offers more extras. Each film now comes with a behind-the-scenes documentary, while "Red October" and "Sum of All Fears" have audio commentaries by John McTiernan, Phil Alden Robinson and Tom Clancy. These extra features are also available in the 2008 Blu-ray editions.