Fox nabs film rights to 'World Without Us'

Project based on environmental book eyed as tentpole

Fox has acquired film rights to Alan Weisman's environmental nonfiction book "The World Without Us," with the intent of turning it into a tentpole feature for Mark Protosevich to write and Francis Lawrence to direct.

The book, a best-seller and a critical favorite, took on the idea of life on Earth if humans were suddenly to disappear. The book explored how edifices and houses would deteriorate, how long and which man-made objects would linger and last, the environmental impact nuclear waste and other pollutants would have left unchecked and how nature would spread over built environments.

Fox is not aiming to make a documentary but rather a fictional feature buttressed by the book's science. It would, for example, show an event that would lead to man's disappearance.

"Without Us" would be a nice companion to Fox's other end-of-humanity films, such as its 2004 Roland Emmerich disaster movie "The Day After Tomorrow" and the studio's "Planet of Apes" franchise.

Lawrence and Protosevich, both repped by CAA, proved themselves masters of that kind of material with the sci-fi monster movie "I Am Legend," which featured Will Smith as the only man left in New York.

The plan is for Protosevich to tackle "Without Us" before working on Universal/DreamWorks' "Old Boy" remake, which has Smith attached to star and Steven Spielberg attached to direct.

Lawrence, additionally repped by 3 Arts Entertainment, has the adaptation of Sara Gruen's novel "Water for Elephants" set up at Fox 2000.