Studies in genetics over the past 20 years have involved some of the most exciting and potentially transformative advances in the history of science. The birth of Dolly the cloned sheep (exactly two decades ago) ushered in a new era of human understanding, one that may revolutionize animal conservation and challenge the idea of extinction as a point of no return. Any account of these advancements and the science behind them is compelling material on its own—so naturally, it’s time for Hollywood to take that true story and make it absolutely fucking ridiculous.
Deadline reports Fox has purchased the rights to Woolly: The True Story Of The De-Extinction Of One Of History’s Most Iconic Creatures. It’s a forthcoming book by Ben Mezrich, acclaimed author of Bringing Down The House and Accidental Billionaires, the nonfiction tomes that were adapted into the films 21 and The Social Network. And while those movie embellished their respective accounts of already fascinating source material, Woolly promises to take a similar approach to verisimilitude, and then add giant rampaging prehistoric beasts on top of it all. Weirdly, rather than explaining it by saying, “Yeah, you know Jurassic Park? Then we’re all good here,” the story is instead described as “Part Jurassic Park, part Indiana Jones,” possibly for copyright infringement purposes. It’s a thriller in which “a geneticist and his team of young Harvard scientists have set out to do the impossible: Bring the woolly mammoth back from extinction, intending to populate a huge tract of the Siberian tundra (known as Pleistocene Park) as a hedge against a ticking time bomb that’s hidden deep within the permafrost.”
While that “Pleistocene Park” bit makes the borrowing from Michael Crichton’s famous story seem especially egregious, it’s actually the name of the real scientific project in which an attempt is being made to restore the mammoth steppe ecosystem. In addition, the plan to bring back a woolly mammoth has become a viable plan for scientists, and Mezrich’s book, due to be released next fall by Simon & Schuster, doubtless gets into the astounding details of this profound achievement in scientific progress. But those pesky details aren’t as fun on celluloid as watching live woolly mammoths chase people across the tundra, so instead we’ll get a CGI extravaganza. It will be interesting to watch Woolly come up with alternative ways of saying, “Life finds a way,” likely uttered by Matthew Gray Gubler, the poor man’s Jeff Goldblum. “De-extinction discovers a path,” he’ll murmur, clad in a leather jacket, as mammoth eggs litter the screen and Stanley Tucci does something in the background.