Have any movies been produced based on Isaac Asimov's Foundation series? If not, why not?

  • 3
    I'd like too see that before I die
    – César
    Dec 17, 2011 at 15:06
  • 2
    I'd like to see it... but it is WAY too intellectual on some levels to readily become a movie. For me to be happy with it, it would need to be a long running, only partially episodic series, ala some of the older PBS ones.. Anything less, OR with the need for big events in every episode (to driver viewership), would tend to destroy it. Lets not see it go the way of Dune.
    – K-H-W
    May 26, 2012 at 23:15
  • there are audio dramatizations
    – NKCampbell
    May 4, 2017 at 19:29

5 Answers 5


As explained on the Wikipedia article, there has not been a movie. The reasons why a movie has not been made for a book or series generally (including this case) come down to one thing: money -- or more specifically, a lack thereof. The Foundation series appears to be in what is often called development hell, characterized by repeated (failed or stalled) attempts at making a movie since 1998.

  • 26
    And thank the lord for that! I don't want Hollywood to turn one of the first SF sagas I ever read into some crappy action movie with explosions, futuristic car chases mutants with tentacles, and hot chicks everywhere :/ They did enough damage with "I, Robot" :(
    – Andres F.
    May 26, 2012 at 0:10
  • 3
    There's a book called I, Robot?! Feb 14, 2014 at 22:00
  • 4
    @Lèsemajesté Just in case someone doesn't realize that you're being sarcastic, we'll go ahead and say I, Robot is an anthology of Asimov's short stories centered around the Three Laws.
    – Spencer
    May 9, 2017 at 23:16

Right now, the rights for a Foundation series of films have been given to Roland Emmerich and he plans to get to development on them after his next movie. It seems he is planning a CGI/3D opus (ala Avatar) and will likely over-convolute the story with action and special effects =/


(This is not really a movie and it is not explicitly referencing the Foundation series from Asimov, but it is directly inspired from it and heavily borrows its key concepts, so it could be something of interest)

There is an episode from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, named Statistical Probabilities (Season 6, Episode 9) that is inspired by the concept of psychohistory. In the episode, a group of genetically augmented persons is so intellectually advanced that is able to predict and calculate the outcome of the Dominion War.

Quote from the Deep Space Nine Companion, as reported by Memory Alpha (bold text by me):

The story line was based on Isaac Asimov's classic Foundation Trilogy. Asimov based his work on issues raised in Edward Gibbon's The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, and the basic plot involves a scientist (Hari Seldon) who develops a branch of mathematics known as psychohistory which he uses to calculate that galactic civilization is doomed to fall, leading to 30,000 years of darkness and barbarism. Seldon, terrified at this prospect, takes action to attempt to minimize the oncoming "dark ages" to only 1,000 years, but his plan fails to foresee that the actions of a single individual could render his predictions invalid. Psychohistory is based upon mass action, and it can only predict the future when dealing with large groups, predicting trends in large masses of people, which is why Seldon is unable to take into account the actions of individuals – when it gets down to individual people, the variables become so vast as to be impossible to calculate, so the predictions become unstable. In the novels, a character called The Mule, who has psychic abilities, becomes intimately involved in events, and directly influences their outcome, something which Seldon's psychohistory could never have predicted. This is exactly what happens in the episode: the savants make large scale predictions based upon mass action, but they fail to take into account the actions of one single individual, who comes to directly affect everything they have predicted.

  • 1
    But, Seldon did allow for such problems. Seldon aware of the limitations of the mathematics - especially when dealing with small numbers (or individuals.) For this reason, he created the second foundation. They deal with mathematical errors/inaccuracies and individuals. As well, it is always the actions of some individual(s) that cause the plan to go forward. The mathematics predict that it will be done, though not by who or how.
    – JRE
    Apr 30, 2018 at 11:07


Some more recent news report that Apple is developing a TV series based on Asimov's Foundation Cycle. (Link - Link)

Deadline reports that the project from Skydance Television is “in development for straight-to-series consideration,” with David S. Goyer and Josh Friedman attached as showrunners. Goyer is best-known for comic book adaptations like Blade, Man of Steel and Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, while Friedman was the creator of Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles.


According to TheWrap, Jonathan Nolan is writing a TV series based on the Foundation Cycle to be produced by HBO. Anyway, that article is rather old (November 2014), and as far as I know, there have been no other concrete news about this project.
An article from iDigitalTimes (July 2016) doesn't really add anything, besides assuming that there is no any real reason to believe that this project was canceled (but, I can add that we don't even have any proof that it is going further).
A discussion on Reddit also contain nothing more than a bit of speculation.

The only tangible outcome of this rumor is a fan-made opening titles video. It is extremely amazing, but is just a fan product, unfortunately id doesn't really have a meaningful significance about the status of the project.


Emmerich has been saying he is going to make a movie since 2009, the movie is slated for 2013 (according to IMDB) and so for not a single actor/set/premise/detail has been disclosed. Emmerich is quite frankly a terrible director who lacks the ability in making anything good. I hope it stays in movie hell until some competent hands are capable of dealing with it.

  • 2
    +1 I hope the movie stays in development hell, or failing that... Anyone knows how to hire a hitman?
    – Andres F.
    May 26, 2012 at 0:12
  • 2
    IMDB now does not specify a date for the movie (obviously they missed 2013) -- unless that information is hidden behind the paywall. Feb 13, 2014 at 19:15

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