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With the release of Interstellar this past weekend, the name Christopher Nolan was on the tip of everyone’s tongues, but it was actually his brother and frequent collaborator Jonathan Nolan who first put the epic sci-fi film’s script together. Jonathan Nolan’s next expansive sci-fi tale will be a mountainous effort, as he’s reportedly taking on icon Isaac Asimov’s Foundation trilogy for HBO. Set the bass on your TVs to “bwwmp.”
According to The Wrap, Warner Bros. TV is bringing the project to HBO, though no one has gone official with it yet. The prestigious cable network, who already has a pilot going with Nolan, first picked up the rights to the novel series earlier this year, and the screenwriter was publically talking about the Foundation series recently. That’s the trifecta for “something happening,” I’d think.
Foundation, first published in 1951, opened up the futuristic narrative with different connected stories about mathematician Hari Seldon and his ability to predict certain elements of the future by way of extreme math. The nutshell premise: he foresees the fall of the Galactic Empire, the combined name of the human-filled Milky Way galaxy, and a 30,000 year Dark Age before society rises up again. His solution? A foundation of artists and engineers to jumpstart civilization much quicker. It’s Interstellar to the nth degree. Why wouldn’t Nolan be the guy doing it?
The award-winning original trilogy – which is comprised of Foundation, Foundation and Empire and Second Foundation – is what’s at play here. Should it make it to series, its potential success would probably urge HBO to snatch up the rights to the follow-up sequels and prequels. The world needs a really meaty, high-quality sci-fi epic on TV. Which isn’t to knock anything on the air currently, or even Syfy’s impressive upcoming schedule, but “the Foundation series on HBO by a Nolan brother” is nearly as grand scale as you can get, which is to say nothing of what it may actual be, quality wise.
Can the world handle TWO Jonathan Nolan HBO projects? That’s right, in case you didn’t know, he’s already working on an adaptation of Michael Crichton’s Westworld for the network. That project has a stunning cast, including Anthony Hopkins, James Marsden, Evan Rachel Wood, Ed Harris and Thandie Newton, among others. HBO usually shies away from straight genre material, so here’s hoping both of these projects are worth their weight in viewers.
This isn’t the first time Asimov’s Foundation series has been approached for a visual project. Roland Emmerich was going to lend his Independence Day finesse to a feature version of the story. That fell apart, and Sony then went with indie filmmaker Dante Harper, who first wrote the script for Edge of Tomorrow. Someone is bound to bring the appropriate scale and density to this series.
Can Jonathan Nolan, who was part of the reason why Memento, The Prestige and The Dark Knight were so memorable, turn these interwoven stories into a TV series that will gain an audience?