Isaac Asimov hasn’t had the best luck with Hollywood. Perhaps the most obvious example is the Will Smith vehicle I, Robot, which 20th Century Fox felt was a better use of the property than the infinitely superior screenplay that Harlan Ellison wrote back in in the 1970s. And we’re not even going to go into the movie adaptation of Bicentennial Man, in which Robin Williams’ mugging almost broke through his robot costume.
And now it looks like we can look forward to Hollywood destroying yet another Asimov classic: his magnum opus The Foundation Trilogy. Sony has hired Dante Harper to write the script for a trilogy of films to be directed by Roland Emmerich.
If you haven’t read the books (and you better before they hit movie screens), it follows the efforts of mathematician Hari Seldon, who invents the new science of Psychohistory, which allows for the prediction of large-scale events in society. After he predicts that galactic empire is due to collapse into a dark age, he creates the Foundations: two organizations dedicated to preserving knowledge and shortening the dark age as much as possible.
If you haven’t heard of Dante Harper… it’s just because he hasn’t written anything that’s come out yet. His first sold screenplay was the Timothy McVeigh biopic Dreamland, which is still in production and he’s written scripts for David Fincher’s Black Hole remake and the upcoming Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters.
This is actually the second Asimov film that Fox has greenlit in the last couple weeks. They recently announced a version of the robot-detective novel, The Caves of Steel, to be directed by Henry Hobson and written by screenwriter John Scott. We’ll just have to wait and see which one mangles it source material more.