Sony has announced the release of Inferno as the next film adaptation based on author Dan Brown’s Robert Langdon series. EW has confirmed the Deadline report that Inferno will mark the return of Ron Howard as director and Tom Hanks as symbologist/art historian/accidental adventurer Robert Langdon. The film will also be written by Angels & Demons’ scribe David Koepp. But the Florence-set thriller — and pseudo travel guide — is the fourth book in the Langdon saga, meaning that the development of The Lost Symbol film adaptation will be put on the back-burner.
Howard previously announced that he would produce but not direct The Lost Symbol, instead focusing on the racing movie Rush. With Rush speeding onto screens Sept. 27, Howard will bypass the Washington, D.C.-set work, originally scheduled to be adapted by Game Change‘s Danny Strong, for the film version of Brown’s latest novel, released May 15. Although on the surface, this decision may seem odd or detrimental to the franchise, it may be the best decision Howard could have made.
Focusing on the mysterious Masons and their intimate connection with America’s founding fathers, a potential Lost Symbol movie would tread familiar territory. The Lost Symbol is Dan Brown’s National Treasure, which itself is Jerry Bruckheimer’s The Da Vinci Code. It’s Dan Brown’s ripoff on a ripoff of himself. Inferno is a classic Robert Langdon adventure — a picturesque European locale, shady secret organizations, and a criminal mastermind’s carefully plotted puzzle for the hero and his beautiful companion to decode.
We get it — the Masons were weird but influential. American money has a strange pyramid and other symbology on it. Government buildings were built in a neo-classical style for a reason. That does not a compelling action movie make — at least one sans Nicolas Cage. One of the most exciting moments from The Lost Symbol is a chase scene that occurs in absolute darkness. A blank screen is not very conducive to a captivating thriller.
On the other hand, Inferno has the potential to be a serviceable sequel in Howard’s Da Vinci Code franchise. The book includes colorful characters that could lead to juicy acting roles like the Lisbeth Salander-esque Vayentha the assassin, blond and beautiful former child genius Sienna, and awesomely crazy billionaire biochemist Bertrand Zobrist. Plus, Americans love visiting Europe — and who wouldn’t want a “tour” of historical Florentine hot spots at just the cost of a movie ticket?
Inferno is slated to premiere Dec. 18, 2015.