Another Michael Crichton classic is being turned into a TV show. Sphere, which was originally a novel from Crichton, is being adapted for the small screen and is heading to HBO. The series is being developed by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, the duo behind the hit sci-fi series Westworld. Perhaps not coincidentally, Westworld was also based on the 1973 movie of the same name, which was written and directed by Crichton. Additionally, Robert Downey Jr. is on board the creative team.
According to multiple reports, HBO has put the Sphere TV series in development. Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy are set to executive produce the series alongside Robert Downey Jr. Known best for his on-screen work as Iron Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, RDJ recently produced the Perry Mason reboot for HBO. Susan Downey is also set to produce via their Team Downey production company. Nolan and Joy are producing for Kilter Films alongside Athena Wickham. Denise Thé has been set as the showrunner. She was an executive producer and writer for Westworld season 3.
Sphere was originally published as a novel in 1987 and was very well-received in that form. It centers on a group of American scientists who are rushed to a huge vessel that has been discovered resting on the ocean floor in the middle of the South Pacific. What they find defines their imaginations and mocks their attempts at logical explanation. It is a massive spaceship that has been seemingly undamaged by its fall from the sky. Most peculiar, it appears to be at least three hundred years old.
Warner Bros. released a moviei adaptation of the book in 1998. Directed by Barry Levinson, it stars Dustin Hoffman, Samuel L. Jackson, Sharon Stone, Peter Coyote and Liev Schreiber. Produced for a reported budget of $80 million, it grossed just $73 million at the box office, making it a sizable flop. It also didn't fare well with critics, currently holding a mere 11 percent approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes. But this particular team of filmmakers has had luck with Michael Crichton's work in the past. Not to mention that the author's work inspired one of the biggest franchises of all time with Jurassic Park. So there is certainly reason to think, with proper execution, that this could be a good move for HBO.
Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy signed an overall deal at Amazon last year but they had previous deals individually at Warner Bros. TV, who is backing the series. It is said that the show was already in development before the duo excited their deal with Warner Bros. which is why they are still involved. Nolan and Joy are also currently developing a Fallout TV show for Amazon based on the hit video game series. There is no word yet on how soon production could begin, nor is there any word on potential casting. We'll be sure to keep you posted as any further details on the project are made available. This news was previously reported by The Wrap.