EXCLUSIVE: After his first English-language film The Imitation Game got eight Oscar noms including Best Director and Best Picture and trails only fellow Oscar nominee The Grand Budapest Hotel as the year’s biggest indie, director Morten Tyldum is in early talks to make his studio debut for Sony on Passengers, the script by Doctor Strange scribe Jon Spaihts.. This is a big science fiction love story, set in deep space, and it’s a major studio priority being overseen by production president Michael De Luca and produced by Original Films’ Neal Moritz and Ori Marmur and Michael Maher for Start Media and Stephen Hamel of Company Films.

Morton Tyldum Benedict Cumberbatch Imitation GameSony bought this project late last year while it engaged in all that turmoil, and it didn’t take long for it to bear fruit. Passengers takes place on a spacecraft transporting thousands of people to a distant colony planet and has a malfunction in one of its sleep chambers. As a result, a single passenger is awakened 90 years before anyone else. Faced with the prospect of growing old and dying alone, he eventually decides to wake up a second passenger, marking the beginning of what becomes a unique love story.

Spaihts’ scripting credits include Prometheus, The Mummy reboot and Doctor Strange, the latter of which has Benedict Cumberbatch firmly set to star for Marvel.

Passengers once had Keanu Reeves and Rachel McAdams attached along with Game Of Thrones and Boardwalk Empire helmer Brian Kirk. Before that, Reese Witherspoon had been expected to play the female lead, and The Weinstein Company bought in a big deal at 2012 Cannes. Moritz tracked it through all its twists and turns and he and DeLuca pounced when it became available. They’ll start from scratch on cast, but they will build a star package.

Tyldum is repped by WME, Anonymous Content and Michael Schenkman.