Columbia won an auction last week for screen rights to Foundation, Isaac Asimov's groundbreaking science fiction trilogy, Variety reported. The project will be developed as a directing vehicle for Roland Emmerich (2012).
Emmerich and his Centropolis partner Michael Wimer will produce the film.
Originally published as a series of eight short stories in Astounding Magazine beginning in 1942, Foundation is a complex saga about humans who are scattered on planets throughout the galaxy, living under the rule of the Galactic Empire.
A psychohistorian who can scientifically read the future sees an imminent empire collapse and prepares to save the knowledge of mankind.
The property was originally developed by Fox and producer Vince Gerardis but found its way to New Line and then to Bob Shaye and Michael Lynne as the first major project announcement after the former heads of New Line formed Unique Pictures at Warner Brothers.
Gerardis, whose Created By formerly represented the Asimov estate and who is producing an adaptation of Asimov's The End of Eternity at New Regency, was attached as producer.
Warner allowed its option to lapse, expecting to quietly make a new deal with a clear chain of rights that would have left Fox and Gerardis on the outside, the trade paper reported.
It turned into a spirited auction. Warner bid for Unique and director Alex Proyas, while Fox bid for Gerardis. Emmerich and Sony were the surprise entrants. Turns out that Wimer had been tracking the availability of the rights since he was Emmerich's agent at CAA, and Columbia Pictures president Matt Tolmach pounced. Emmerich and Wimer just completed 2012 at Sony.