It's been three years since Steven Spielberg last sat in the director's chair for Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. The legendary filmmaker will (so to speak) make up for that "time off" by releasing four films over the next two years: The Adventures of Tintin and War Horse this winter, Lincoln by late 2012 - and his next sci-fi venture, Robopocalypse, the year after that.
The official budget for Spielberg's adaptation of Daniel H. Wilson's recently-published novel - which details (what else) an apocalyptic robot uprising - has yet to be revealed, but it's significantly large enough that two major Hollywood studios have agreed to co-finance the flick.
Deadline has learned that DreamWorks and 20th Century Fox are co-funding Robopocalypse, which is being scripted by Drew Goddard (Cloverfield). Fox and Walt Disney Pictures are handling distribution of the film, which is now officially set for theatrical release on July 3rd, 2013 in the U.S.
Robopocalypse tells a tale set in the very near future, where robots are a part of our everyday lives and perform a variety of rudimentary tasks (cleaning our homes, driving our cars, fighting our wars, etc.). Things take a turn for the worst when a scientist named Nicholas Wasserman creates a new form of artificial intelligence - dubbed Archos ("Master" in Greek) - that is designed to, above all else, preserve life on Earth. In classic Isaac Asimov style, Archos' logic works differently than expected and results in the A.I. entity starting a war between humanity and robot kind.
Wilson's original novel is structured as an oral history (a la Max Brooks' World War Z novel) that recounts the human vs. machine war through the use of interviews, testimonies, and recorded footage from the event. The book is said to contain plenty of action-heavy set pieces and many a disturbing and unsettling sequence (ex. machines turning human corpses into zombie-like warriors, via the aid of technology). So Spielberg's Robopocalypse adaptation may not deviate from the plot of its source material in the same manner than the World War Z movie is.
Robopocalypse definitely bears more than a passing resemblance to many a previous sci-fi flick, including The Terminator and Alex Proyas' I, Robot adaptation - to name a couple obvious examples. The original book has also been compared to the collective works of Michael Crichton, and with good reason - the plot synopsis alone reads like Jurassic Park, only with advanced androids (not genetically-enginneers dinosaurs) running amok!
All in all, though, Robopocalypse sounds like something right up Spielberg's alley, with its combination of blockbuster action and thought-provoking sci-fi themes. The film version could end up feeling like a mashup of several previous Spielberg titles (including A.I., Minority Report, and War of the Worlds), which could be fun. Goddard likewise sounds like a fitting match to adapt Wilson's story for the big screen.
We will see how it all goes down (literally) when Robopocalypse hits theaters on July 3rd, 2013.