After effectively pulling the plug on Neill Blomkamp’s planned sequel to Alien a couple weeks ago, 20th Century Fox owed the director, and big time. More than that, they had a high-profile talent under contract sitting around with nothing to do, burning money without a frame to show for it. A new exclusive from Deadline announces today that Fox has enacted a plan to address both of these concerns in one fell swoop by purchasing the rights to the new novel The Gone World.

The newest work from novelist Thomas Sweterlitsch, The Gone World has not yet been published and has yet to set a date for its release, but Fox snapped up the adaptation rights anyway in a supreme vote of confidence. (Practices such as this are surprisingly common in Hollywood, too; it’s not unusual for a studio to observe past success from a writer and bank on their continued profitability by banking on the mere idea for a novel that may exist at some indeterminate point in the future.) Judging from the success of Sweterlitsch’s last novel, the 2014 dystopian adventure Tomorrow and Tomorrow, this newest work should end up being another smash. The Deadline item only coughs up the vague detail that the film is a “time-travel procedural” and nothing else, the piece’s author leaving us to our imaginations.

But such material would place Blomkamp right in his element, in light of the director’s well-documented penchant for sci-fi. His films have covered many of the standard narratives in the genre, from alien invasion as social parable (District 9) to the fusion of organic bodies with cybernetic enhancements (Elysium) to whatever Chappie might’ve fancied itself being. It might be a minute until The Gone World makes its inner workings known, but Blomkamp just might be able to bounce back after the travesty of Chappie with this one.

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