The literature of sci-fi icon Isaac Asimov has been adapted for the big screen many a time before – though, previous Hollywood big-budget treatments have generally amounted to very loose adaptations, at best (see: Bicentennial Man, I, Robot).
Hence why Asimov fans might have mixed feelings about 2oth Century Fox moving ahead with a film version of The Caves of Steel – a sci-fi/murder mystery novel that was originally published in serial form in 1953.
Deadline says that John Scott 3 and Henry Hobson – the writing/directing duo behind the upcoming low-budget zombie drama, Maggie – have been recruited to realize Caves of Steel on the big screen. Simon Kinberg (X-Men: First Class, Elysium) is onboard to produce the project.
Caves of Steel is an interesting specimen, seeing how Asimov reportedly wrote the novel in part to demonstrate that science fiction genre tropes could be mixed with other genres. That’s not exactly a revolutionary concept today – seeing how sci-fi elements have been combined with those from genres ranging from Film Noir (Blade Runner) to even the classic western (Cowboys & Aliens) – but it was a fairly innovative concept for writers, back in the mid-20th Century.
Asimov’s original book revolves around the murder of Roj Nemmenuh Sarton – a space ambassador who has long struggled to convince the futuristic governments of Earth to do away with anti-robot legislation. When Roj is discovered dead, human detective Elijah Baley is recruited by the New York police department to solve the crime – with the assistance of the humanoid robot R. Daneel Olivaw. Those two questing characters (who would also be featured in later Asimov stories) struggle to discover the identity of Sarton’s killer – partly, due to Elijah’s own prejudices towards his mechanized partner.
If there are plot points in that synopsis that seem more than a bit reminiscent of the I, Robot adaptation… don’t worry, it’s not just you.
Hobson has previously worked as a visual artist – serving as the effects director on Julie Taymor’s The Tempest adaptation – and designing the stylized credits in films such as Sherlock Holmes and the Fright Night remake (not to mention, the Walking Dead TV series). Scott, by comparison, works for NASA and develops command systems for the organization’s flagship X-ray satellite.
In other words: the two are anything but tried-and-true filmmakers, but they certainly have the ability to realize Caves of Steel as a visually creative – and scientifically sound – piece of cinematic art. Perhaps some fresh blood is exactly what this project needs, given its overt similarities to other sci-fi titles.
We will keep you posted on the status of The Caves of Steel as more information is released.