Studio to Bear up for sci-fi pic trilogy

In yet another sizeable deal made for a movie that involves global destruction at alien hands, Warner Bros. paid an undisclosed seven-figure sum for the rights package to “The Forge of God,” a Greg Bear novel to be adapted by “Black Hawk Down” scribe Ken Nolan.

The deal was made with the idea of creating a three-picture series, the second of which would be based on Bear’s sequel novel, “Anvil of Stars,” and the third to be based on a final installment the author has yet to write. The producers will be Ralph Vicinanza and Vince Gerardis, partners in lit management/production shingle Created By.

Deal was forged on the basis of a 70-page Nolan-penned “scripment” on which WB and two other studios bid. Nolan’s document gives him a head start on the script, and presiding WB exec Jeff Robinov will look to hook a director right away.

That puts WB in position to compete with a growing number of studios bent on cinematically destroying the world. Fox recently made a seven-figure purchase of the Roland Emmerich-directed script “Day After Tomorrow,” a drama about the apocalyptic impact of abrupt global warming. Paramount and Tom Cruise are developing H.G. Wells’ “War of the Worlds,” with Steven Spielberg rumored to be interested. WB, already in the man vs. machines “Matrix” trilogy, just bought alien attack saga “Ender’s Game” for Wolfgang Petersen.

Earth’s big mistake

In Bear’s novel, hostile aliens are encouraged to visit the Earth by the numerous signal probes sent over the years. Turns out that Earthlings would have been better off keeping their existence a secret, because these extraterrestrials are more “Independence Day” than “E.T.”

The rights package sold days after it was submitted to the town, even though the book was published in 1987, the sequel in 1992. Vicinanza and Gerardis manage the author’s lit properties and said the key was Nolan’s detailed take on a complicated invasion filled with an ensemble of characters bent on preventing it.

The Created By partners sent “Forge” to Nolan’s WMA agent Todd Feldman after they saw “Black Hawk Down.” Coincidentally, Nolan had heard about the book as he was looking for a follow-up project and said he’d just read it when Feldman called to offer him the book.

Evil intentions

“It’s a procedural step-by-step of what happens if the bad cousins of ‘Close Encounters’ realize we are here, and systematically and malevolently destroy us,” said Nolan.

Nolan borrowed a page from James Cameron, who laid out his plans for “Spider-Man” and “Aliens” through a document that mixes a script with a treatment. Nolan earlier used a 60-page scripment to sell producer Jerry Bruckheimer on “Black Hawk Down.”

“A scripment allows you to make mistakes, throw in long scenes that won’t be in the movie, all with the idea that it allows buyers to absorb the experience of the film without thinking they have to accept or reject the script as a final document,” said Nolan.

He didn’t even get the chance to properly lay out the sequel, “Anvil of Stars,” in which the survivors of the apocalypse head into space to repay the home planet of the responsible aliens.

“Things spun out of the control, and Vince and my agent pitched the sequel,” said Nolan.

The direction of the third film will be determined among WB, the producers and veteran sci-fi author Bear, who’ll novelize a conclusion to the trilogy, a book that will be set in a publishing deal by Bear’s lit agent Richard Curtis. Attorney David Colden reps Nolan.

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