EXCLUSIVE: 20th Century Fox, which tapped into Isaac Asimov’s futuristic robot science fiction for I, Robot, is now working on a live-action adaptation of Asimov’s The Caves of Steel. The studio has set Henry Hobson to direct and John Scott 3 to adapt the murder mystery that was first published as a book in 1954. The director and writer are currently in pre-production on Maggie, a spec script that tracks the six-week metamorphosis of a 16-year-old girl into a zombie after she becomes infected and continues to live with her family. Trained at the Royal College of Art in London as a graphic designer, Hobson specializes in creating inventive title sequences for films that included Sherlock Holmes for Prologue Films. The scribe seems well suited to adapt Asimov’s visionary prose. When not writing scripts, Scott builds command systems for NASA’s flagship X-ray satellite. He works with the Chandra X-Ray Observatory, which takes photos of X-ray photons in deep space.
The Caves of Steel will be produced by Simon Kinberg, the X-Men scribe whose Genre Films banner is based at the studio and who is right now producing the Neill Blomkamp-directed Elysium, which stars Matt Damon, Jodie Foster and Sharlto Copley. Similar to I, Robot (which Fox turned into a hit film with Will Smith), The Caves of Steel is a murder mystery that takes place 1,000 years in the future, on an overpopulated Earth where there is a phobia about robots. The title refers to giant city complexes that are necessary because Earth is so overpopulated. While robots are used for labor in outlying “spacer worlds” where the rich live on spacious parcels, the robots are outlawed on Earth. A Spacer Ambassador lobbying to loosen Earth’s anti-robot restrictions is found dead, his chest imploded by an energy blaster, and a detective is matched with a human-looking robot to solve the crime. Hobson is repped by CAA and Energy Entertainment.