Dan Brown cuts out the middleman and adapts 'Lost Symbol' script himself

Dan Brown has set out to crack another code -- only this time it's more personal than biblical. The novelist behind such global literary phenomena as The Da Vinci Code and and Angels and Demons will make his screenwriting debut with the film adaptation of his most recent bestselling mystery-thriller, The Lost Symbol. In this big screen take on his 2009 page-turner, Brown will plant his Da Vinci protagonist, Harvard symbologist, Robert Langdon, at the center of a mystery involving the relationship between the Freemason's of Washington DC and artifacts in the Smithsonian.

Most of the key players who made the two previous film versions of Brown's bestsellers into worldwide blockbusters -- namely Columbia Pictures and producers Ron Howard and Brian Grazer -- have signed up to excavate The Lost Symbol for moviegoers. The project does have two looming creative x-factors that yet to be solved: Who will direct the project if Howard, who directed the first two films, bows out? And will audiences revolt if Tom Hanks, who is the only Langdon moviegoers have ever known, doesn't commit to a third go-around with the franchise? The doomsday scenario in both cases will likely involve more work and frayed nerves for the producers but won't put much of a dent in the project's prospects for big time box office success. Heck, they could get the cast of the dinner theater to read the book on camera and it would still draw crowds considering the novel's unstoppable freight train of a release -- it broke all previous sales records, moving over 1 million copies on its first day alone.

Whatever happens with the rest of the starting lineup, it'll be interesting to see how Brown's intricate and endlessly compelling plotting translates to the big screen. One has to wonder if Brown was unhappy with Goldsman's adaptation of 'Da Vinci' or "Angels and Demons." Or did Brown simply decide to make like Larry McMurtry, Michael Crichton, John Irving, Richard Price and adapt his own damn book. The upside: He collects a second paycheck for slaughtering pages of exposition and countless darlings in the process of refashioning his own characters and dialogue into camera-ready images and dialogue. The downside: He sacrifices the right to complain about the Hollywood butcher who ruined his masterpiece.

Either way, Brown at the keyboard makes this three-quel worth watching.