July 29, 2008 / 4:50 AM / 9 years ago

Asimov sci-fi epic "Foundation" coming to screens

NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) - The ousted founders of downsized studio New Line Cinema are producing an adaptation of the Isaac Asimov sci-fi epic "Foundation."

The project marks the first undertaking for Bob Shaye and Michael Lynne, who set up their own banner called Unique Features earlier this month after exiting New Line when the ailing studio was absorbed by its bigger corporate sibling Warner Bros. Unique aims to make two or three movies annually, with Warners handling marketing and distribution.

Science fiction is a genre in which the duo and New Line had dabbled, most notably in recent years with "The Last Mimzy," which Shaye directed. That 2007 film grossed just $27 million worldwide, according to tracking firm Box Office Mojo.

"Foundation" is based on Asimov's "Foundation Trilogy," which centers 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 politically inflected work, which features such characters as the prophetic Hari Seldon and a villain called the Mule, spans hundreds of years, essentially tracking the rise and fall of entire civilizations. Each book contains a new set of characters, which poses a multitude of challenges for a big-screen adaptation.

Additionally, Asimov's books tend to incorporate philosophical themes as much as action elements. Still, the very loose adaptation of his "I, Robot" collection of stories turned into a $340 million global hit for Fox in 2004. In 1999, Disney released the Chris Columbus film "Bicentennial Man," based on one of the author's short stories. That film grossed $94 million worldwide.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter

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