EXCLUSIVE: Amblin Entertainment is negotiating with Joachim Rønning to direct Micro, the final novel written by Michael Crichton, author of Jurassic Park and the screenwriter and director of 1973’s Westworld. Darren Lemke has written the script. Frank Marshall is producing and Sherri Crichton and Laurent Bouzereau are the executive producers. This has been a passion for Amblin’s Steven Spielberg and Michael Wright, who bought the book two years ago. The studio also owns the historical book Pirate Latitudes, also written by Crichton and discovered after he died.

Michael Crichton
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Like Jurassic Park, the hope here is to launch another franchise with Micro, and the film will gear up for a fall shoot. The novel is a high-concept thriller that follows a group of graduate students lured to Hawaii to work for a mysterious biotech company — only to find themselves miniaturized and cast out into the rainforest, with nothing but their scientific expertise and wits to protect them.

Universal will distribute. Amblin is securing Rønning right on the heels of a strong reaction to a CinemaCon preview screening of Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, which he directed with Espen Sandberg and which Disney releases May 26.

Micro was unfinished when Crichton died in 2008. It later was completed by Crisis In The Hot Zone author Richard Preston and published by HarperCollins in 2011. It spent 20 weeks on the bestseller lists.

Rønning is in high demand, setting out solo after directing Pirates and Kon-Tiki with Sandberg. He just finished directing the ABC drama pilot Doomsday and is set to direct Methusaleh, the drama that has Tom Cruise attached to star for Warner Bros and producer David Heyman. Rønning is repped by UTA and Brillstein Entertainment Partners.

Lemke also adapted the RL Stine novel Goosebumps for Sony, and just turned in a sequel script. His other credits include Shrek Forever After, Jack The Giant Slayer and Turbo. He’s repped by UTA, Kaplan/Perrone and Loeb & Loeb. Crichton is repped by ICM Partners.