After Salt made more than $300 million when its box office was tallied, Salt 2 seemed like an obvious choice. But after the first movie’s director bowed out of any franchise plans and Angelina Jolie herself rejected the first attempt at a script, things seemed dead in the water. At least until now, when Columbia Pictures has hired Becky Johnston to take another run at the script.
Salt is a movie of note for me not because it made a huge hit in our culture (it didn’t, even though it was a box office success, possibly because it was a bigger hit abroad than in the U.S.). It’s because it was a spy thriller written for one of Hollywood’s most bankable leading men, Tom Cruise, who turned the part down after deciding that it was too similar to his roles in the Mission: Impossible movies. Instead of replacing Cruise with another male action star, the role wound up going to Angelina Jolie (after a script rewrite where the most major change was removing the existence of the titular character’s spouse and children, which could engender practically an entire post’s worth of talk about how Hollywood presents motherhood and women’s attachment to family), and creating a blockbuster action movie with a female lead with none of the clichés frequently associated with such efforts.
Becky Johnston’s the woman behind the scripts of Seven Years in Tibet and The Prince of Tides, and dang if the prospect of a woman-written, woman-starring action spy flick doesn’t intrigue me. It’s far too early in the production to think of it like a real thing, but I sure hope it becomes one soon.