On a Foundation Movie

A recent announcement from Locus:

“The film version of [Isaac] Asimov’s ‘Foundation’ trilogy optioned in 2000 by Fox, is moving forward, with a screenwriter assigned, and will likely appear as two films, ‘Foundation’ and ‘Second Foundation.'”

You want my honest opinion? I think Foundation is pretty much unfilmable. But I’d have said that about The Lord of the Rings, and that turned out very well. The problem with Foundation? Structure. So…

I’ve given a lot of thought to how to approach adapting the Foundation trilogy as a film (or, rather, several films). One of the problems is the trilogy’s episodic structure due, naturally, to the manner in which it was written–as a series of short stories across the span of a decade. Each short story is essentially independent of the others. Character reappearances are few–in the Salvor Hardin and Mule stories; the rest use the universe as the backdrop, and the characters flow from that. As a series of films, this poses few problems–each film could concentrate on one or two related stories from the trilogy. As a single film, the lack of any central character (beyond the Hari Seldon hologram, which has all the character depth of paper) and the span of four centuries the stories encompass, would pose serious structural problems.

If I were making a Foundation movie, I believe that I would begin with the Mule story, taking the second half of Foundation and Empire and the first half of Second Foundation and developing a single script that combined the two stories into one. Then, if this film were successful, I would make a Salvor Hardin movie, utilizing the two stories from Foundation as the source.

I wish the producers of a Foundation movie luck. They will need it.

Published by Allyn

A writer, editor, journalist, sometimes coder, occasional historian, and all-around scholar, Allyn Gibson is the writer for Diamond Comic Distributors' monthly PREVIEWS catalog, used by comic book shops and throughout the comics industry, and the editor for its monthly order forms. In his over ten years in the industry, Allyn has interviewed comics creators and pop culture celebrities, covered conventions, analyzed industry revenue trends, and written copy for comics, toys, and other pop culture merchandise. Allyn is also known for his short fiction (including the Star Trek story "Make-Believe,"the Doctor Who short story "The Spindle of Necessity," and the ReDeus story "The Ginger Kid"). Allyn has been blogging regularly with WordPress since 2004.

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