'Sphere' TV Series, Based on the Michael Crichton Novel, Destined for HBO

Sphere, Michael Crichton’s sci-fi novel about an ancient alien spacecraft discovered on the ocean floor, is headed to HBO. Westworld producer Denise Thé is handling the series, serving as showrunner, writer, and executive producer of this new adaptation. Sphere is one of Crichton’s better books, and it was previously adapted into a kind-of-terrible movie in 1998 starring Dustin Hoffman, Sharon Stone, and Samuel L. Jackson. So here’s hoping HBO gets it right.

Variety says a Sphere TV series is in the works at HBO, with Westworld‘s Denise Thé leading the way. Published in 1987, Sphere was the brainchild of Jurassic Park author Michael Crichton, with the following synopsis:

In the middle of the South Pacific, a thousand feet below the surface, a huge vessel is unearthed. Rushed to the scene is a team of American scientists who descend together into the depths to investigate the astonishing discovery. What they find defies their imaginations and mocks their attempts at logical explanation. It is a spaceship, but apparently it is undamaged by its fall from the sky. And, most startling, it appears to be at least three hundred years old, containing a terrifying and destructive force that must be controlled at all costs.

After Jurassic Park became such a phenomenon, producers and studios were eager to adapt other Crichton novels. Sadly, this often resulted in lackluster films, and Sphere is no exception. Despite being directed by Barry Levinson and starring Dustin Hoffman, Sharon Stone, and Samuel L. Jackson, the 1998 Sphere movie is, to be blunt, terrible. It’s bland and lifeless, which is a shame, because the book is pretty damn good.

Back in the ’90s, when Jurassic Park was all the rage, I got into a Crichton kick and read a bunch of his books. And of all the Crichton novels I read, Sphere always stood out to me as the most memorable. It has what would now be considered very familiar beats (movies like SolarisThe Abyss, and Event Horizon are all cut from the same cloth), but there’s plenty of room for a solid adaptation.

Whether or not it can all translate to a TV series is a different story, but I’ll let the folks working on the show worry about that. The Sphere TV series is being produced by Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy‘s Kilter Film and Robert Downey Jr. and Susan Downey’s Team Downey, in association with Warner Bros. Television.

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