DreamWorks to film comic hero Tintin

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BRUSSELS -- DreamWorks will film the adventures of the iconic Belgian comic-strip hero Tintin, it was announced Thursday in Brussels by Herge Studios, which holds the rights to the fictional journalist and adventurer.

Steven Spielberg will produce the film with partner Kathleen Kennedy, which is in development at his Amblin Entertainment for DreamWorks, but he is not expected to direct.

The move caps a quarter century of negotiations involving Spielberg, a lifelong Tintin fan. He first bought an option to film the character just before Tintin creator Georges Remi -- known as Herge -- died in 1983. At one point, an agreement was in the cards, but Herge then read in the contract that Spielberg might not direct the films personally and refused to sign on the dotted line.

Although Spielberg never developed a full Tintin screenplay, some escapades of the intrepid reporter and his faithful dog Snowy are recognizable in parts of the Indiana Jones trilogy.

Herge Studios chief Nick Rodwell said it is still unclear which of the 23 Tintin books will be chosen for a first movie, nor could he say whether the film would be live-action, traditional animation or CGI. "With Harry Potter, everyone knows that there will be seven films. We have 23 scripts. If the first one works, we'll make another," he said.

Rodwell is the husband of Herge's widow Fanny, the holder of the universal rights for the Tintin estate. "There will be a worldwide promotion, and we will emerge from the Belgian, French and Swiss ghetto to reach for China and the U.S.," he said. "It will be a big Hollywood production, nearer the $100 million mark than the $20 million, but that's not my business."

There were two live-action Tintin movies filmed in the 1960s, and three animations, but all were low-key releases. Two animated television series have been made, both of which were adaptations of the comic strips rather than original stories. Last year, London's Young Vic theater company ran a musical version of "Tintin in Tibet."

The decision by DreamWorks comes during a year of Tintin festivities in Europe to celebrate what would have been Herge's centenary. Traveling the world fighting crime and venturing to the moon a full decade before Armstrong, the comic-strip boy hero's books involve masterly plots, subtle themes and depth of characterization.
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