Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Roland Emmerich‘s Centropolis Entertainment has acquired Emergence, a pitch for a large scale contemporary science fiction film by scribe Nic Kelman. Emmerich plans to direct the film, which I’ve heard is a new take on an alien invasion story containing hot-button science elements. Here’s why this is significant: studios all over town have been beating the bushes for new IP (intellectual property) with tent pole potential because they don’t develop like they used to, and they are beating sequels into the ground.

Emmerich’s track record, going back to Independence Day, 2012 and The Day After Tomorrow, is to come to the marketplace with a script, a budget, a start date, and his commitment to direct. And studios like Fox and Sony have responded by paying huge sums against extravagant back ends because they could see the whole picture and it enabled them to slot an event film right into their slates. Emmerich’s big-scale movies almost always become big hits globally. So when Emmerich is ready to go on Emergence, I bet studios open their wallets again. It went a little differently on his latest film, the June 28 opener White House Down, which Sony Pictures bought as a $3 million spec script from The Amazing Spider-Man scribe James Vanderbilt, generated with his Mythology Entertainment partners Brad Fischer and Laeta Kalogridis.

Emmerich has other projects in the pipeline that are further along, including Singularity, so it’s unclear which movie will be next. He has also been in the mix on sequels to Independence Day. A lot depends on Kelman, who is currently writing Outpost for Lorenzo di Bonaventura at Paramount Pictures. Kirstin Winkler, Centropolis’ Executive Vice President of Production, and Aaron Boyd, the company’s Director of Development, are going to be producers on Emergence, and will shepherd this one along. Kelman holds a Bachelor of Science from MIT and a Masters of Fine Arts from Brown University, so this falls into the latest trend encompassing films like the Christopher Nolan-directed Interstellar, which melds narrative storytelling with grounded science theory. Kelman is repped by CAA, Tom Lassally of 3 Arts, and attorney Michael Gendler of Gendler & Kelly, while Emmerich is CAA and attorney John Diemer.