Robopocalypse's Daniel Wilson on his new Avtomat deal with Fox

Contributed by
Dec 15, 2015, 4:42 PM EST (Updated)

Prolific sci-fi author and roboticist Daniel Wilson just got an early Christmas gift even Santa couldn't deliver, a first strike mega-deal by Fox for a 100-page film treatment for Avtomat, a science fiction story the exact plot and logline of which are being kept under wraps.

Deadline announced yesterday that the deal closed late Friday, with Hutch Parker and Dan Wilson (not the author) producing via Hutch Parker Entertainment, the team also adapting Wilson’s novella, Small Things.  Avtomat is Wilson’s first novel since Robogenesis, the sequel to the highly successful Robopocalypse, chronicling a near future uprising of intelligent next-gen robots.

As December storms continue to descend on Wilson's home town of Portland, Oregon, it was raining silver and gold with the deal reportedly worth high-six against low seven figures, once the movie goes into production.  It's one of the biggest script sales of the year and a testament to the author's sustained ability to tap into the type of projects Hollywood has an insatiable appetite for.  

Most of us would love to have the sort of epic creative year Wilson has had.  While patiently waiting for Steven Spielberg to get the cameras rolling on the long-delayed Robopocalypse, he co-edited the wild anthology of video game stories, Press Start To Play, released a cool iOS game called Mayday: Deep Space, sold Brad Pitt's Plan B Entertainment a top secret sci-fi survival script called Alpha (now at Lionsgate awaiting a green light), and wrote 26 weekly issues for DC Comics' Earth 2: World's End.  That's an entire career for some fortunate folks but Wilson's uncanny knack to have his synapses snapping in tune to the entertainment industry's lust for smart, provocative material sees him consistently generating more work.


"I’m beyond excited to team up with Hutch Parker and Fox on another project after my novella, Small Things. Avtomat is an epic story that came to me while I was writing scenes that take place in Russia for my last novel, Robogenesis," Wilson told Blastr.  "Although I can’t talk too much about the plot, this new novel has some amazing cinematic possibilities that I can’t wait to see explored."

Avtomat first appeared as a short story in last year's armageddon-themed anthology, The End is Now: The Apocalypse Triptych Volume 2, a collection of apocalyptic short fiction.  It centers around an 18th century automaton made in the 6-foot 8-inch likeness of Peter the Great surviving the death of the Tsar and fleeing for his mechanized life with an automaton comrade, culminating in a bloody encounter on a snowy battlefield on the plains of Mongolia.

In a 2014 interview with JohnJosephAdams.com, Wilson elaborated on Avtomat's time period and inspiration:

“Avtomat takes place in the early 1700s, as a man and his daughter try to escape an attack by mounted Imperial Russian infantry. I researched the weapons and tactics by reading books on Russian history, including a couple of books meant for children that turned out to be very illustrative (literally; they had pictures). They are fighting on the Mongolian plains, which are similar to the Great Plains where I grew up. I tried to make it as realistic as possible, and I’ll admit this one required a lot of research!

"In my latest novel, Robogenesis, there is a Russian character who I fell in love with. While researching that character, I really got into trying to understand the macho-yet-incredibly-sentimental national character of Russia. Historically, I have always been fascinated by Peter the Great—a nearly seven-foot-tall human dynamo who basically reinvented Russia. Finally, I’ve been itching to write about court automata — ancient robots that were built to entertain kings and emperors. It all came together in a really fun way in this story."

Though these comments were made relating to the short story version of Avtomat, it gives us a taste of the themes and setting of this sci-fi period piece.  Stay tuned to Blastr and we'll bring you more about this momentous new film project when more details are revealed.