If Robert Ludlum could reap royalties beyond the grave, he’d probably be the richest writer in the afterlife. One by one, Ludlum’s unadapted novels (of which there are 25 left) are making the glorious transfer to the big screen with some big names attached to them.

In a seeming response to MGM‘s Tuesday announcement that Tom Cruise has signed on for the author’s The Matarese Circle (and possibly a sequel), Universal, who owns the rights to the remainder of the ‘Ludlum library,’ is fast-tracking an adaptation of Ludlum’s 1982 Cold War-centric thriller, The Parsifal Mosaic.

Similar to The Bourne Identity series, Parsifal is about a U.S. espionage agent, Michael Havelock, who becomes tangled in a KGB-backed conspiracy that leads him to a tumultuous search for Parsifal, a shady character running a blackmail scheme that could lead to nuclear war among the U.S., China and the Soviets.

And just like Jason Bourne, Havelock is deemed by his U.S. government employers to be a dangerous paranoid schizophrenic that must be terminated lest he compromise a series of European security networks.

Now I understand that filmmakers have to match their competition, so Universal’s fast track move in response to MGM’s project is legitimate, but maybe the Hollywood honchos should put their heads together and consider that it might not be such a smart move to saturate the industry with Ludlum adaptations. True, they all come with a riveting plot attached, but the themes and characters are all strikingly similar, and too much of a good thing can get old faster than you can say ‘Ludlum’s a millionaire.’

No writers, actors, or even a director have been announced for The Parsifal Mosaic, so Universal is really gonna have to kick it into high gear to get the edge on MGM’s expected 2010 release for The Matarese Circle. Chances are they may even hit the box office around the same time…

How do you feel about the growing Ludlum craze? Will the projects vary enough to hold their own on the big screen?