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Having brought Arrakis to life with his acclaimed adaptation of Frank Herbert’s Dune, Denis Villeneuve will journey even further into iconic science fiction foundations with Rendezvous With Rama.

Alcon Entertainment, previously partnering with Villeneuve on “Prisoners” and “Blade Runner 2049,” has acquired film rights to Arthur C. Clarke’s classic sci-fi novel Rendezvous With Rama for their frequent collaborator to direct.

Denis Villeneuve is a French-Canadian filmmaker known for his thoughtful, deeply felt approach to commercial films. He’s had fantasy and scifi elements in almost all his work. His first major hit is the crime-thriller Sicario. He followed that with Arrival, a truly amazing adaptation of Story of Your Life by Ted Chiang (Nebula Award), a story of timeless love and alien first contact.

Villeneuve directed the critical and audience favorite of 2021, Dune. It’s currently winning awards and is a box office hit (for pandemic times).

The rights to the Rama novels rights have been controlled for 20 years by Morgan Freeman and his partner Lori McCreary’s Revelations Entertainment, which will produce the movie along with Alcon. They obtained the rights from Clarke himself.

Arthur C. Clarke is a giant of science fiction, having invented the communication satellite, co-written the screenplay for 2001: A Space Odyssey, named a Grand Master by the SFWA, hosting several television series (eg Arthur C. Clarke’s Mysterious World), and knighted in 1998. He also created the Arthur C. Clarke Award for science fiction writing and The Arthur C. Clarke Center for Human Imagination at UCSD.

Sir Arthur is known for his poetic approach to science fiction and one of his best quotes is:

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”

That sense of wonder and magic works well in film.

Rendezvous with Rama (1973) is a story about first contact. In the early 22nd century, a large asteroid is observed entering the solar system from interstellar space. Dubbed Rama (from the Hindu supreme god), the asteroid turns out to be a 50km cylindrical spacecraft, a gigantic generation ship. An expedition is sent to explore its interior. Clarke’s depiction of the massive and inscrutable mysteries of Rama made this one of his most popular novels, and Rendezvous with Rama won both the Hugo and Nebula awards for best novel — a feat Clarke would repeat with The Fountains of Paradise, that invents a space elevator remarkably similar to the one used in the new Foundation TV series.

Rama has already been adapted twice before, once as a radio play by the BBC, and once as a PC adventure game.

David Fincher was listed on Revelations’ Rama web page as far back as 2001, and stated in a late 2007 Aint It Cool interview that he was still attached to helm the picture. The issue was finding a script everyone could agree on.

“Denis’ vision for Rama felt completely aligned with Arthur’s wishes, so we are confident that teaming with our producing partners Andrew and Broderick at Alcon is the right next step in this over-20-year odyssey!” stated McCreary and Freeman.

“This is one of the most intelligent works of fiction in the genre; it poses as many questions as it does answers, and is a work for our time,” said Johnson and Kosove of Alcon. “It’s perfectly fitted to our friend and collaborator Denis’ brilliant sensibilities and specifically to his love and passion for science fiction. We are also pleased to work with Morgan and Lori, who have a long-standing passion for this IP.”

Morgan Freeman said: “Rama forces us to look at questions only cosmologists and religious people have considered. ‘Are we alone?’ and if not, who are they?”

The success of Dune led Warner Bros. to greenlight the sequel, Dune: Part Two which is currently in its pre-production stages. Villeneuve is also attached to direct episodes of the HBO Max spinoff prequel series Dune: The Sisterhood, which he will also executive produce. This means Rama will probably happen in 2024 or later. But it’s already been almost 50 years, what’s a few more to do it right.

It is this writer’s hope that Morgan Freeman will have a role in Rendezvous with Rama, even if they film it now and bank it. He is a great actor and did so much to make this project a reality.

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David Raiklen
David Raiklen

David Raiklen wrote, directed and scored his first film at age 9. He began studying keyboard and composing at age 5. He attended, then taught at UCLA, USC and CalArts. Among his teachers are John Williams and Mel Powel.
He has worked for Fox, Disney and Sprint. David has received numerous awards for his work, including the 2004 American Music Center Award. Dr. Raiklen has composed music and sound design for theater (Death and the Maiden), dance (Russian Ballet), television (Sing Me a Story), cell phone (Spacey Movie), museums (Museum of Tolerance), concert (Violin Sonata ), and film (Appalachian Trail).
His compositions have been performed at the Hollywood Bowl and the first Disney Hall. David Raiken is also host of a successful radio program, Classical Fan Club.

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