Home Entertainment Why We Never Got To See ABC’s 1980s Jack Ryan Series

Why We Never Got To See ABC’s 1980s Jack Ryan Series


According to the American Film Institute’s website, author Tom Clancy was “engaged in a copyright dispute between the novel’s first publisher, the Naval Institute Press, and its current publisher, G. P. Putnam’s Sons” in 1988 while all of this development was happening. The crux of the disagreement came down to Paramount and ABC Studios both thinking they had the rights to the Jack Ryan character. Paramount claimed that its $450,000 deal for “The Hunt For Red October” included rights to any sequel story, while ABC disagreed, thinking they were in the clear to make a Jack Ryan TV show centered on the “Patriot Games” story. Paramount was reportedly “concerned a television production would create an image of Ryan that did not fit with their film’s characterization”; back in the era where films and TV were more strictly separated and film was still the dominant form of pop culture entertainment, you can understand the studio’s reluctance at the idea of paying millions of dollars for a movie, only to have a different iteration of the character show up on TV to potentially water down the studio’s vision (and box office potential for theatrical sequels). Ultimately, the dispute resulted in ABC Studios giving up on the TV adaptation, and the film went ahead as planned.

Ford went on to play Jack Ryan again in 1994’s “Clear and Present Danger” before Ben Affleck took over in 2002 for “The Sum of All Fears,” and when that movie failed to provide enough spark at the box office, Paramount waited more than a decade before trying again with Chris Pine in the role for 2014’s “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit.” When that movie also failed to relaunch the franchise, Amazon Prime Video scooped up the rights to the character for streaming and cast John Krasinski in the lead role for the simply named “Jack Ryan” TV series that ran for four seasons. At this rate, we expect to see another attempt to bring Jack Ryan to the big screen somewhere between eight and twelve years from now.

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