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Isaac Asimov's Foundation Trilogy Headed to the Big Screen

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July 29, 2008

Isaac Asimov's Foundation

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!

FoundationThe 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?

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  • Colin (brother of Mike) Hunt
    "Without actually reading them"... now why am I not surprised?
  • http://www.myspace.com/kevjohnphotography kevjohn
    About Damn Time !
  • Staatz
    Read the books! They could make a movie out of them no problem, but it'd be pretty expensive, they would need a pretty big cast.
  • David
    Hm, interesting, my beef with turning Foundation into a movie is that there are no consistent characters. I always thought this would be better as a HBO mini-series. But like kevjohn I say about damn time!
  • Staatz
    The Mule is in the second and third books at least...
  • Roderick
    Wow, great news, Foundation was one of the first books that I read from my father's sci-fi collection, and it was spectacular, even if I was 13 years old (damn, that was 20 years ago!). It is still one of my favorites sfi-fi operas, I'll love to see them in any form, film, mini-series, whatever. If you think about the quantity of remakes in this times, this is good news.
  • http://www.isaacasimov.com.br Lawrence Lagerlof
    Amazing story, incredible characters, perfect book. Please, the movie MUST be invencible. Thanks, Bob and Michael.
  • Jorge Leiner
    The Foundation and all of its books, is a complex, very interesting (VERY), and very (VERY) entertaining work in the field of science fiction. The complete series includes 7 books... or 6?... damn memory, and i'm only 31... where was I? ah, yes, the work of Isaac Asimov is indeed full of detail, and it goes thru the ages within the story, spanning a great period of time, so, it's no wonder why no one has been able to ensemble something for the screen so far. If they manage to do so, it will be a great movie, or series of movies. All the material is enough to make a trilogy, or four movies or even five, or a TV series, who knows... I strongly recommend everyone to go and read the complete series so you can understand what the fuzz is all about. Let me help you: Prelude To Foundation Forward The Foundation Foundation (if you just want to know the basics, read this one!) Foundation and Empire Second Foundation Foundation's Edge Foundation and Earth (... and by the way "I Robot" is NOT a good adaptation, "The Bicentennial Man" is NOT a good adaptation, and both are based on Asimov's books, so, let's pray for a good one this time!!)
    • Kat
      I read somewhere that Robin Williams regretted doing Bicentennial Man.  I never wanted to see it because it just didn't come across as something that would get me, even though the story itself is quite intriguing to me!  I, Robot was good, but I agree with you, not a good adaptation of the I, Robot stories.  I haven't read the Foundation stories, yet, but it has definitely been added to my list.
    • Dzloco
      I think that by itself, the movie was pretty good, that is if you could separate it from the book and just look at it as a movie.  I enjoyed it very much.  
  • blah
    Just the trilogy, Foundation through Second Foundation, those are the ones the movies will be based on and those are the great ones. Read those. The rest aren't bad, they're Asimov after all, but the original trilogy is special.
  • Henry
    The Laws of Robotics might need to be changed 1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. Unless they make another crappy adaptation of an Asimov story.
  • http://xndev.blogspot.com Matthew Heusser
    I'm a big fan of the old sci-fi greats - Heinlien, Clarke, and Asimov. It was that generation that literally inspired us to reach for the stars -- or at least the moon. I used to see a wall of those greats in my local walden books. Heinlein Clarke and Asimov were rare in that they didn't need to use sex or explicit violence to sell books. Now, when I walk into a big box book store, the Sci-Fi/Fantasy section is twice as big - but the masters of sf get very little shelf space. Increasingly, the section is dominated by female vampires in black-mini-skirts with too many tattoos - authors who do need to use sex and violence to sell books. It is ... sad. In some of the books, the traditional bad guy is the protagonist. I don't get it. That said, any movie that can raise awareness of these guys is good - as long as it stays true to the book. "Starship Troopers" the movie was funny, but it was someone else's starship troopers - certainly not Bobby Heinlein in the 1950's.
  • yoopin
    Please don't stuff it up...please don't stuff it up...please don't stuff it up...please don't stuff it up...
  • http://www.myspace.com/kevjohnphotography kevjohn
    #4: I also thought this would be great as an HBO mini-series! Or maxi-mini-series. #10: I watched I, Robot again recently and it wasn't nearly as bad as I remembered it being. It was actually a pretty entertaining film. They could have made it slightly closer to what was in the book though. #11: Don't take it personally, they're selling out and mucking up EVERY genre these days. Try finding a decent horror, crime, western, whatever novel worth reading that was written in the past decade or so. Twilight -- need I say more? #12: There's a good chance they'll stuff it up. Isaac Asimov's Foundation, starring Ben Affleck and Avril Lavigne.
  • David
    These books will be impossible to adapt to the screen. They were written as a collection of short stories, not a novel. How can they adapt that to a two-hour movie? Cannot be done. Not unless they butcher it beyond recognition. Still might be a fun movie, but it won't be Asimov's Foundation.
  • Dr. Adam Bruce
    I am a huge fan of the foundation novels (or collected short stories, if you wish)! The wide range of Asimov's intellegence made it perfect in all ways. But They must be extremely faithful to the books though, the last thing we need is a hollywoodified version (or should I say perversion) of what is most likely the greatest sci-fi trillogy ever. The other books are very good as well (I literally read "Foundation's Edge" in about a week's time), and I think they should be considered part of the series, but in no way were they like the first three. What I like about Asimov most of all is he avoided B.S. science, and even the technologies that aren't available yet which he wrote about are both feesable and have resonable limitations -take it from a physics major!
  • Vince
    I am also concerned about the movie butchering the books. (As is usually the case.) Foundation was absolutely phenomenal. (I have a hard time deciding which is better: Foundation or Dune.) There's just sooooooooo much story there, I really don't see how they could cram a sizable amount into 2 or 3 hours. But I'm still excited, nonetheless! (Also hoping that Rendezvous with Rama will eventually hit the big screen!)
  • eliot
    I read the foundation years ago, and I think it's a great story, but frankly these guys are missing the boat. Foundation is a very complicated and diffused storyline. If you want a great compact Asimov story, film "the Ends of Eternity" instead. Neat novel, easy to tell in under two hours.
  • whall319
    i heard the buzz about this movie a year ago. lost my mind trying to figure out 'how could they do it?' CGI the whole thing (star wars: clones wars). this will probably be the direction for a number of great sci-fi novels that move to 'big screen.'
  • Mike
    I have read the originals, which of course were not written on a linear timeline. So, I took on the task of reording them based on the galactic timeline, including Mr A's "robot" and "detective" versions. They were all great... and suprisingly consistent. I have to agree with a previous entry that this would have been a great HBO series versus a few movies. Kinda like the DUNE mini-series on SFI-FI. Except this one could go for years with the right marketing.
  • Paul
    I think their task of bringing Foundation to the big screen is hard, but not impossible, especially since Asimov wrote those 2 prequels. I suppose they will emphasize the opposition between the Foundation and the Empire. I think it should work better if they plan in advance the sequels, because the Foundation series does not have an end. I think the Robots series is more adaptable to movies - especially Caves of Steel
  • http://google.com KB
    I understand everyone's lack of confidence, but, I think it needs to be judged on it's own merit's when it comes out.
  • andy
    I don't know about this idea. I love the books because they're so interesting and entertaining and Asimov has such a great imagination, but it would be a really boring movie. It would just be a bunch of people talking about how their culture procreates through synthetic babies for mostly the whole time. I don't think that they should make a movie.
  • Larry W. Virden
    I too have fears about the final results. I have few memories of books which survived the transitions - other than the lord of the rings or C.S. Lewis series. The Foundcation universe is one of my favorrites - I've read it many times over the 40+ years of SF reading. We can only pray that it be done correctly.
  • Gabe
    I was having a chat with my uncle recently, and i asked him "Do you think they could make a movie of Foundation", and he replied, firmly "No, it is a great book, but because it is more talking and less action, people will be dissapointed. Don't get me wrong, I think if somebody pulled it off the movie would be an instant classic, but its very unlikely." and I have to agree with him. I hope that the movie does work, 'cause its one of my favorite books of all time. Hopefully they don't screw up another Asimov book.
  • Gabe
    Guess what! These guys arent doing the movie! Columbia Pictures bought the rights and now Roland Emmerich is directing it, not Shaye and Lynne. Dissapointing!
  • http://ogatoquepesca.blogspot.com Raphael Romero Barbosa
    It's a dream coming true!!! I've always dreamt of Fundation Trilogy (books) becoming a movie (or a trilogy movie).
  • Iz
    OK, this has the potential to be epic. But! I really don't see how foundation can be made into a movie. They should skip foundation and focus on Foundation and Empire and Second Foundation. OR, they could just narrate foundation when necessary or have a 15 minute preface to it. Its to complex to easily follow on the big screen without taking tons out of it.
  • Drake Hybern
    This has great potential to be a mega hit but also great pitfalls. There is not a core group of characters that span the trilogy, only an idea or series of ideas. It might be better made into a mini-series on the SciFi channel. The movie Dune was horrible, but the two Dune mini-series done on the SciFi channel were excellent. A mini-series has more time to explain complex concepts (i.e. psychohistory, laws of robotics, galactic empire shaping, etc.), do characterization and plot building. The SciFi channel is the perfect vehicle for this as well as they have proven with Dune that they can deliver excellent productions of famous books. HBO might have more money but it would not be available for most people like the SciFi channel or even the movie theatre would. It would be difficult to write a screenplay for the trilogy. You would almost have to write all three before production started to make sure you got all the parts of the story. They filmed all three Lord of the Rings movies at the same time (and wrote the screenplays ahead of time) for that very reason. It is an intricate story and it is too easy to leave out an important point in one movie that may become pivotal in the next if you don't do them together. I would of course go see the movie if they made it, but I am hoping they don't make another Dune ... that is ... a horrible butchering of a classically great book.
  • http://feeneyslaw.blogspot.com John Feeney
    Yes I am a fan of the series - It IS about time somebody did a film re these stories, and I can think of no one better than the people who did "The Lord of the Rings" esp. as they were faithful to the original books. So far no film based on an Asimov novel (I believe I have caught two so far) has actually been all that consistent with the novel. Seeing even the first volume of "Foundation" on the screen would be a treat.
  • John Zinn
    I'm concened that the F T would end up looking like the movie version of the Hitchickers Guide. I agree with John and his suggestion that the crew that did the "Lord of the Rings" would be the best group to do the trilogy. JZ St. Louis
  • Joe Ryan
    There are several ways to go with this project. The one espoused here is a good start, with a strong focus on Hari and a few crises in the first book. But there is the trillogy, which is a far better story with more charachter depth as the books progress. Then there is the over-arching story with Daneel as the prime character over several millenium. If I was a Hollywood promo person behind this, I would play up Daneel in the series, even though he was not in the original trillogy. Then I could tie the three together and, if really lucky, have all the prequells and follow-on Foundation books as possible movies to last for years. Caves of Steel, Robots of Dawn, I Robot and all the latter foundation books could fuel a long series and losts of $$$. Whatever they do, the Azimov boooks are all superb on their own and a beautiful symphony as a whole. The way he brought it all together as a whole in the last two foundation books was a thing to be experienced rarely as an avid reader.
  • ashok prema
    I have read and re-read the Foundation series many times and still find them thrilling. However, I'm not convinced they can ever make a good film of the series - especially the first book which is the basis of the whole series - simply because the book depends so much on fine nuances and a turn of phrase to bring a wonderful twist to the tale eg When Hari Seldon reveals he had planned for 5 years that his group would be exiled and t where - totally unexpected. Again the defeat of the Mule - depends upon a simple phrase 'a simple secret' (or words to that effect) which undoes the Mules plan. Hollywood films are usually succesfull because of special effects and grandiose sets - fine nuances will be lost in the winds I fear - and much beyond the mass audiences who look for excitement and thrills. Look what they did with I Robot and worse The Bicentennial Man!! Asimov must be turning in his grave!
  • http://www.fondation-lefilm.com Foundation Fan
    Emmerich has totally taken into account Foundation is not "another-SF-novel-that-could-be-turned-into-a-movie-without-bothering-writing-a-line-of-script"... He knows Asimov as the Pope of Science Fiction, and Foundation as his masterpiece. Hazardous material! He announced few weeks ago, he has chosen Robert Rodat for working on a scenario. Rob, who has written "Private Ryan", "The Patriot", is known for focusing on characters. This is a first "director's choice", which is really interesting when one has read the books. My opinion is to give Emmerich credit for launching such a project, with what could be "goods scenaristic options". Please excuse my french accent...
  • larry matlock
    i think it's a great idea to make this movie but i must menchin that the foundation is not a trilogy ,it indeed has 7 whole book i know i'm reading them in order to the story line .and if anyone of importance see's this post i would be honored to be part of this movie.for i feel it will make movie history.and i've read the books over and over having a good knowlegde of the story.fingers are crossed.so let get filming,lol
  • Sarvor Hardin
    Please don´t do it!!!, new generations will think that Asimov´s master work is that shit they are about to do. Please have mercy and don't do it!!!
  • Rachel Maye CT
    I am currently embarking on reading the series of the first seven books and possibly the Second Foundation Triology Post Asimov. Completing three of the seven series I have been fanned and forever. This is a great project and I look forward to the screening results. Asimov's knack for humor and and characterization are wonderful. I hope the director will be able to recreate the effect. Good luck to your endeavor. My ticket is already purchased.
  • Fred
    will there be popcorn in this future ?
  • John Zinn
    Now I'm going to have to go read the Trilogy again. JZ St. Louis
  • Michael Barney
    Roots worked well as a mini - series and was truly captivating. I think it was very clever to use so many popular movie and tv personalities to portray many of the villians and hero's. The amount of time the story spanned was dealt with well. I believe that the foundation trilogy can become a multi-picture dynasty. Those of us who love the works of Asimov will rip any rendition apart with analysis, but it would really need to be awful for it not to succeed. The material is just too good. I can already hear myself saying, "So you liked the movie, wait until you read the books!" I began to read the series before all the books were written and could hardly wait for the next book. I saw Avatar recently, didn't like the story or the science (under-whelmed by it), too much gratuitous violence and downright silliness, however, I loved the experience and I didn't even see it in 3-D yet. I do think the next one will be better, but not necessarily financially as successful. I believe we will be talking about which of the 5 or 6 Foundation films was the best. It might take a decade to get them all out.
  • http://www.youtube.com/pyrobooby Peter Chao
    Dis movie can be soo good. I rearry rearry want to see this. Don't be a mudaf*cka, make this movie a trilogy at least with different cast
  • Kevin
    If comment 40 is an indication of the type of movie goer that will enjoy the Series, I hope they never make it into a movie.
  • james allen
    They are gunna have to get some kick ass screen writers to do this.
  • Doug Craig
    Please ! Please! Please!, SONY this is got to be good ! Not a gimic 3D. Where is George Lucas !! Spielberg !! heck even J.J. Abrams. Crap, even Japanese Anime over Avatar like CG. My son , 12 years old is just starting to READ these great stories and know he will learn the stories via his Play Station 3D and DSi XL 3D game. Great - beat the boss and get to see Hari Seldon give him another clue to beat more Pokimon. Read more: http://www.firstshowing.net/2010/02/11/emmerich-is-going-motion-capture-for-the-foundation-trilogy/#ixzz0lzhOsOsl
  • NostalgicStone
    I absolutely love these books. I read them several years ago, and then again last year. Asimov is a genius! Please guys, if your reading this, DONT SCREW IT UP!
  • DBarba
    Have faith Grasshoppers! This is Hollywood! There is NO WAY they are actually going to do this movie (or movies) without a healthy helping of ego-centric "artistic license". Even the 2nd L.O.T.Rings movie wandered from true fidelity to the book. They will make it . . . greed demands it . . . and they will alter it . . . time and self-adoration insures it, and they WILL muck it up. Alas, and yes, I will probably go see it . . . even if it is panned. After all, I am a well programmed consumer. [SIGH] ". . . Just because we CAN do a thing does not mean we SHOULD do a thing . . . "
  • shati
    who ever want to make the movies just do it.it will be a huze hit.hey hollywood guys u make extremely good movies.so make this one.as like me many others are waiting for foundation series movie.........................................WHEN will we able to watch the movie,do it hurry................
  • Giskard
    The ONLY question here is... who is going to play R. Daneel and Elijah Bailey? (if you say Keanu you're toast) :)
  • Dean Pagliaro
    SyFy should make this into a TV Series, since they have nothing to replace Battlestar Galactica and they are the only channel that would do the books justice.
  • jonatas
    Let's make a chain so Roland Emmerich don't direct the movie. Let's Acclaim Steven Spielberg in every site and every forum and everywhere! Maybe Sony can understand their BIG mistake!
  • Dave Windschitl
    Please, isn't there some way to keep any and all TV and movie makers away from classic science fiction? Spielberg, Emmerich and Verhoeven make pretty good 'smash-and-grab' films, but they also rewrite to suit themselves, usually oversimplifying characterizations and often losing the original author's main point. I wouldn't trust any of them to do a good job with Foundation. Unless Dr. Janet A. is starving to death and needs desperately to sell the rights, I think Hollywood should buzz off.
  • Anonymous
    Like so many others I hope that these two movie moghuls dont screw up the books (it does not bode well when they consider I Robot to have being well done)  What they need to do is bring in Sci-Fi writers like Niven, Poul, and others to get a real feel (otherwise they will not get it right) they will embarass themselves and the robot will get them for the fans will send them out
  • DKHolder00
    with computer imagery now, there is a real possibility a movie could capture the magnitude and depth of Foundation.... please make it happen !

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