Why We Never Saw the 80’s ABC Series Jack Ryan

According to American Film Institute websiteauthor Tom Clancy was “engaged in a copyright dispute between the novel’s original publisher, Naval Institute Press, and its current publisher, G.P. Putnam’s Sons” in 1988 while all this development was taking place. The crux of the disagreement boiled down to whether Paramount and ABC Studios both thought they had the rights to the Jack Ryan character. Paramount claimed that its $450,000 deal for “The Hunt for Red October” included the rights to any sequel stories, while ABC disagreed, thinking it was in the clear to make a Jack Ryan TV show centered on the “Patriot Games” story. Paramount was allegedly “concerned that a TV production would create an image of Ryan that didn’t fit their film characterization”; Back when film and TV were more clearly separated and cinema was still the dominant form of pop culture entertainment, one can understand the studio’s reluctance to pay millions of dollars for a film, only to have a different iteration of the character appear on TV, which would potentially dilute the studio’s vision (and the box office potential for the film sequels). Ultimately, the dispute led to ABC Studios abandoning the TV adaptation, and the film went ahead as planned.

Ford reprised his role as Jack Ryan in 1994’s Clear and Present Danger before Ben Affleck took over for 2002’s The Sum of All Fears, and when that film failed to generate enough traction at the box office, Paramount waited more than a decade before trying again with Chris Pine in the role for “Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit” from 2014. When That movie Also failed to revive the franchise, Amazon Prime Video acquired the streaming rights to the character and cast John Krasinski in the title role of the TV series simply titled “Jack Ryan,” which 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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