I’ve always assumed that Isaac Asimov’s Foundation trilogy could never be adapted because there’s not a damn thing cinematic about this sweeping science fiction story that’s more about big ideas and big time spans than action or romance. But Bob Shaye isn’t easily dissuaded – after all, he made The Last Mimzy despite the script being terrible and he himself having little to no talent as a director – and so he’s making an adaptation of the trilogy his first production with Unique Films, his and Michael Lynne’s banner at Warner Bros.

The trilogy had been set up at Fox for some time, and that studio had tried to turn the thing into one film (it must have been filled with vignettes instead of a story), but Shaye and Lynne are just tackling the first book, Foundation, leaving Foundation and Empire and Second Foundation as films to be shot back to back if the first one makes a dime.

The Foundation series starts with mathematician Hari Seldon, a man who has come up with a new discipline called psychohistory – basically it’s a mathematical model that allows him to predict the future, but only when it comes to large masses of people. The bigger the group, the better the prediction – it works fine on a planetary scale, great on a galactic scale, but like shit on a personal scale. But that’s enough, because Seldon sees that the current Galactic Empire is not long to be, and once it collapses there will be 30,000 years of barbarism. His solution: set up two Foundations to collect all of the art and science of humanity. With these two Foundations, Seldon believes he can cut the barbaric period down to a thousand years.

Yeah, so as you see, it’s not quite Star Wars, especially since the thing spans the thousand years. (By the way, all of the above is from memory. If I have made any fatal errors, my apologies)

Shaye’s acknowledged that this movie will be a bear to make, and that it isn’t the kind of script you can just assign to a guy and expect it churned out in a couple months. But he says that’s where the fun comes in: “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.”

This is a big endeavour, if it happens. This is definitely the Bob Shaye who greenlit Peter Jackson’s crazy scheme, and not so much the Bob Shaye who shat his company down the toilet in the last couple of years. At least I – and Warner Bros – hope so. The beauty of seeing a faithful adaptation of Foundation on the big screen would be almost overwhelming.