Isaac Asimov's Foundation Trilogy Headed to the Big Screen
by Alex Billington
July 29, 2008
Ex-New Line Cinema founders Bob Shaye and Michael Lynne have moved on to become producers and they've just set up their first project. The two will produce an adaptation of Isaac Asimov's Foundation, an epic sci-fi story that was first published in 1951. Asimov actually wrote a complete series of Foundation books, however Shaye and Lynne only plan to adapt the first book for now and if successful, potentially finish off a trilogy like they did with Lord of the Rings. The complexity and scope of the story has been problematic for other producers, however these two are confident that they'll put something worthy together. Shaye explains "this is not a script you can knock out in six months." Certainly true!
The first book in the trilogy, Foundation, is a combination of five short stories written by the legendary Isaac Asimov that together form one plot. The book focuses on a society that has figured out how to predict the future based on a method called psychohistory and sets up a foundation devoted to scientific research to protect itself and ensure its survival. The books contain political themes that center on the rise and fall of civilizations and span hundred of years, which makes this series troublesome and challenging for adaptation. "Our idea to renew the worldwide audience's appetite for the story," Shaye enthused. You can read more about the Foundation trilogy on Wikipedia or pick up copies of the books on Amazon.com.
Shaye and Lynne's new production company, Unique Features, has a three year first-look deal with Warner Brothers, and it's expected they'll pick up this project. Although I'm excited for anything from Isaac Asimov, I'm actually curious to see how this turns out after the collapse of New Line. Shaye's own sci-fi children's movie, The Last Mimzy, flopped last year, but considering Warner Brothers is handling all of the marketing and distribution this time, I don't think we'll anything to worry about if they indeed pick this up. Shaye explained that "this epitomizes the movies we want to make, not the movies that ought to be made to fill a slate or movies that repeat an old formula," which gives me a lot of hope for their new company. I just hope they find the right screenwriter and right director, because we all know ambitious producers on their own don't necessarily make great movies - it takes an entire team of talented individuals.
Getting back to the topic of Asimov's books, Shaye said that the trilogy is "one of the things I've had close to my heart" since he read the books years ago. Without actually reading them, I think it's a challenge to simply understand the scope and extent of the story. Characters change between books and each one spans hundreds of years, which is why this is both an exciting project and one that has me a little bit worried. Although I, Robot turned out good, thanks to Alex Proyas, I don't yet know if Shaye and Lynne have it in them. I guess you could say they did bring us the Lord of the Rings movies, which were faithful to Tolkien's books. Let's hope for the same success with Foundation as well! Is anyone a big fan of this series?