This article comes from Den of Geek UK.
The late Tom Clancy had a bit of a love-hate relationship with Hollywood adaptation of his movies. He sold the rights to The Hunt For Red October when he was just starting out as a writer, and ceded control over the project as a consequence. He was reportedly none-too-happy with the changes made to his story.
By the time we got to the second Jack Ryan movie reboot, The Sum Of All Fears, he was more sanguine. In fact, his DVD commentary to that film – a movie I really like, as it happens – is brilliant. He opens by introducing himself as the man who “wrote the book that they ignored,” and pretty much lets rip from there. It’s in good humor, though, but you can imagine what being on the receiving end of a Clancy tirade might be like.
When it came to the second film based on a Jack Ryan story, Patriot Games, Clancy was just warming up though.
The film saw a significant change in personnel from The Hunt For Red October. Alec Baldwin was replaced in the lead role by Harrison Ford, following a disagreement over money/scheduling/Paramount wanting someone else/delete the stories you don’t believe. And behind the camera, John McTiernan’s director’s chair went to Phillip Noyce, the Australian director then riding high off the success of the thriller Dead Calm.
Noyce had never made a Hollywood movie before, and duly went to meet Clancy at his house. There were changes to the novel that needed to be made – Prince Charles is a character in the book, for instance – and the filmmakers also wanted to do a few more nips and tucks to the story to make it fit a film.
Clancy, though, was less enthusiastic. And when he received a draft of the screenplay that had been penned by Steven Zaillian, his levels of happiness, er, “decreased.” He complained that the character of Ryan had shifted from right wing to left, and would regularly send faxes outlining his umbrage. The filmmakers, eventually, started to ignore them.
Clancy was reportedly incandescent and – in a move unseen since Anne Rice had loudly vilified the casting of Tom Cruise in Interview With The Vampire (a criticism she retracted when she saw the final movie) – Clancy’s grumblings became public. He would complain to the Los Angeles Times, three months before the film was released, that of the 200 or so scenes in the movie, “only one corresponds with my book.”
Clancy was so upset with the adaptation of his story that he then asked for his name to be removed from the opening titles of the picture altogether. As you may recall, his name is actually in the credits, and that’s thanks to him changing his mind about that just prior to the film heading to theaters.
But you won’t find Clancy’s name on the posters or promos. Given that he was one of America’s best-selling authors at the time, this was a far from ideal situation for Paramount Pictures. Just two years prior, The Hunt For Red October, replete with Clancy’s name on the promotions, had been a major hit.
Yet the posters for Patriot Games would either ignore the source material, or simply read “from the best-selling novel.” Clancy’s name is buried in the credits, but if you didn’t know it was his book the film was based on, the poster certainly wasn’t going to tell you.
The film would go on to be a solid hit for Paramount in the summer of 1992, though, and certainly provide enough box office fuel for the studio to press ahead with the film of Clear And Present Danger, that followed in 1994.
However, Clancy was back on side, at least to a degree, even before Patriot Games finally made it to theaters. After a development and production cycle that had been on the hostile side, it turned out that Clancy entered negotiations with the same team at Paramount to sell the rights to The Sum Of All Fears in the weeks leading up to Patriot Games’ release. It’d take nine years for that project to get to the screen, but by the time it did, Clancy was wiser, and perhaps more resigned, to the process of having his work adapted for the screen…