UPDATED, Thursday, 6:15 PM: Warner Bros outbid Sony late Thursday after a spirited negotiation and is now in business with a new possible franchise, The Forever War with Channing Tatum on board to star. The script is being penned by Jon Spaihts and will be based on Joe Haldeman’s book. Richard Edlund had the rights to the book for 27 years, and it had been at Fox for the past seven with Ridley Scott, but after several scripts, it never made it to the big screen. Hopefully, this time, the 41-year-old classic sci-fi novel — said to be one of the best books of the genre — finally will get made.

PREVIOUSLY, Thursday, 11:18 AM: EXCLUSIVE: Warner Bros. and Sony are battling to set up the feature adaptation of the popular sci-fi actioner The Forever War with Channing Tatum attached to star and Jon Spaihts (Prometheus, Doctor Strange, Passengers) scripting. The Forever War, written by Joe Haldeman, is considered one of the best science fiction stories of all time and won numerous awards. The book, which also was continued in two sequel novels, was written in 1974 and also spawned a graphic novel. The story is an analogy about the Vietnam War, a endless war where soldiers fight with no clear idea about why they are engaged in combat.

Warner Bros. is apparently trying to finalize deal points as quickly as possible to win the War and one source said they are in final negotiations. However, another source says that Sony is still in talks as Tatum’s company is based there. Regardless, the project will be a major coup for the studio who lands it, as it is likely to launch a new franchise, complete with merchandising, licensing and spinoffs. The project is expected is to draw an A-list director.

Richard.EdlundThe project had been set up in 2008 at 20th Century Fox with director Ridley Scott who (it was previously reported) had waited for 25 years for the rights to become available. However, the project was never made into a film after being in development for seven years and after many incarnations. At one point, the author reported that it was on its seventh script. Apparently, the option came up and the man who held the book rights for decades, Richard Edlund, chose to go another direction. It’s known that Fox also tried to hold onto the project as they have a lot of money invested in it over the years.

The project shifted over in the past month to Tatum’s Free Association production company and Roy Lee’s Vertigo Entertainment. They will produce along with Edlund and Louis Tedesco who brought the project to Lee on behalf of Edlund. Lee teamed up with Film 360 to produce the project. Hence, Sony and Warner Bros. are both in the mix as Tatum has his deal at Sony and Vertigo Entertainment is based at Warner Bros.

Edlund is an award-winning (and well-known and respected) visual effects artist who started out at George Lucas’ ILM and worked on the original Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope in 1977, Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back in 1980 and Star Wars: Episode VI – Return of the Jedi in 1983. CAA reps Edlund and Spaihts. UTA and Management 360 rep Tatum.