The MGM production is based on a 1979 spy novel by Robert Ludlum and would mark the latest zig (or zag) in Cronenberg's zig-zagging directorial career.
Set against a Cold War backdrop, "The Matarese Circle" focuses on an pair of intelligence operatives -- one American (Washington) and the other Russian -- who have to work together against a criminal organization calls the Matarese.
According to the industry trade papers, Michael Brandt and Derek Haas ("Wanted") have adapted the thriller, which also spawned a 1997 sequel titled "The Matarese Countdown." MGM doesn't have the rights for that one.
"The Matarese Circle" could begin production by spring 2009.
Since the "Bourne" franchise has brought in nearly a billion dollars worldwide for Universal, Ludlum has been a hot property. Studios are developing big screen versions of "The Chancellor Manuscript" and "The Sigma Protocol," while "The Osterman Weekend" is also being remade.
Cronenberg most recently directed Viggo Mortensen to an Oscar nomination for 2007's "Eastern Promises." The director's eclectic resume includes "A History of Violence," "The Fly," "Videodrome," "Crash" and "The Brood."