[UPDATE: Spielberg says Robopocalypse isn’t “dead.” Read on for more.]

Iconic director Steven Spielberg has eight science-fiction movies under his belt and there’s been much a healthy amount of excitement for his ninth exploration of the genre, with the developing Robopocalypse.

The Daniel H. Wilson novel adaptation (scripted by Cloverfield writer and Cabin in the Woods director Drew Goddard) was gearing up to begin pre-production this year, with a cast featuring Chris Hemsworth, Anne Hathaway and Ben Whishaw (Skyfall) in prominent roles. However, the project’s hit some development snags and is now postponed until further notice.

THR is reporting that Robopocalypse has been indefinitely delayed, with Spielberg spokeman Marvin Levy offering up the following explanation:

“[The project is] too important and the script is not ready, and it’s too expensive to produce. It’s back to the drawing board to see what is possible.”

A Reuters source is likewise asserting that Spielberg isn’t satisfied with the latest script draft and claims the estimated budget came in around $160 million, which is higher than the Hollywood mogul prefers. The filmmaker is going to be considering other projects while waiting to read through the revised script, with the options including the Moses epic Gods and Kings that he’s been rumored for over a year now.

Robopocalypse takes place in the not-so-distant future, where a global network of artificial intelligence machines turn on humanity. Admittedly, that premise shares many a trait with older titles like The Terminator, The Matrix and I, Robot (among several others) and has left some of our readers feeling like the sci-fi project is an odd choice for Spielberg at this point in his career. Similarly, the director told 60 Minutes last October that standard action movies “[don’t] attract me anymore.”

That’s to say: it’s possible Goddard’s initial script draft provided the blueprints for a familiar special effects-driven blockbuster about ordinary people saving the world (see: this year’s World War Z), rather than the comparatively thought-provoking and relevant meditation on well-explored sci-fi themes that Spielberg wants to make. If so, good on the director for halting progress until the project morphs into a less expensive (and more innovative) genre venture.

UPDATE: Spielberg has shed some light on the current situation (via EW):

“We found that the film was costing a lot of money and I found a better way to tell the story more economically but also much more personally. I found the personal way into Robopocalypse, and so I just told everybody to go find other jobs, I’m starting on a new script and we’ll have this movie back on its feet soon.”

The director anticipates a delay of 6-8 months, but insists “I’m working on it as we speak” and not pursuing other projects (as initial reports suggested).

We’ll let you know when Robopocalypse begins moving forward again.

Source: THR, Reuters, EW