War Horse

Acquired by Dream Works Pictures, Michael Morpurgo’s novel of the same name takes place during World War I and charts the extraordinary friendship between a boy and a horse who are separated but whose fates continue to intertwine over the course of WWI. The touching novel was made into a play by the same name, which has won the Olivier, Evening Standard and Critics’ Circle awards and has been a huge hit on the London stage over the past three years, and is set to transfer to Broadway next year. Currently playing at the New London Theatre until October 2011, it is notable for its innovative use of giant puppets to depict the horses.

When DreamWorks Pictures first optioned the book, Spielberg immediately came on to produce and eventually decided to direct the picture. The cast will include Oscar-nominated actress Emily Watson, David Thewlis, Benedict Cumberbatch and theatre actor Jeremy Irvine in the lead role. The film will also feature German actor David Kross, who co-starred in The Reader.

Spielberg said he knew from the minute he read the book that he wanted DreamWorks to make the film. “Its heart and its message provide a story that can be felt in every country,” he said. He will direct off a script by  Lee Hall (“Billy Elliot”) and Richard Curtis (“Four Weddings and a Funeral”). DreamWorks will release War Horse to theaters on August 10, 2011.

In addition, Spielberg is producing the Coen brothers’ “True Grit,” also for Paramount, and his own studio’s “Cowboys and Aliens,” which began shooting this summer.

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