Roland Emmerich to Helm Foundation

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Columbia Pictures won an auction late Thursday for screen rights to Foundation, Isaac Asimov’s ground breaking science fiction trilogy. The film will be developed as a directing vehicle for Roland Emmerich, reports Variety.

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 psycho-historian who can scientifically read the future sees an imminent empire collapse, and sets to work preparing to save the knowledge of mankind.

The property, originally developed by Fox and producer Vince Gerardis, 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 Bros.

The trade says Fox would have had to be compensated for its development costs. That became a problem for WB, and the studio 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.

It turned into a spirited auction. WB bid for Unique and director Alex Proyas, Fox bid for Gerardis. Emmerich and Sony were the surprise entrants.