Steven Spielberg to Direct Roald Dahl Adaptation 'BFG' (Exclusive)

5:46 PM PST 04/25/2014 by Kim Masters , Rebecca Ford
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Steven Spielberg

UPDATED: The director is committing to an early 2015 start for the adaptation but leaves room to fit in another smaller movie before then.

Steven Spielberg is attached to direct the adaptation of Roald Dahl's children's book The BFG for DreamWorks.

The live-action film will be based on the fantastical tale of a Big Friendly Giant who befriends a young orphan girl. Dahl's book, illustrated by Quentin Blake, was first published in 1982.

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DreamWorks acquired the book in 2011 with Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall to produce. Various directors have been attached to the project over the years, including John Madden and Chris Columbus.

Melissa Mathison, who penned the script for E.T., wrote the screenplay. Marshall will produce with Michael Siegel on board as executive producer along with Madden. (Kennedy is now running Lucasfilm and busy producing the new Star Wars movies.)

There has been one other adaptation of the popular children's book: for a 1989 animated made-for-TV movie in the U.K.

Spielberg, who dropped out of American Sniper last year, has not directed a movie since 2012's Lincoln, and instead of narrowing his options, seems to be expanding them, adding his name to several projects in the past month, including an adaptation of the David Kertzer novel The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara and an untitled Cold War project written by Matt Charman that has Tom Hanks attached.

This trio of new attachments joined a list of Spielberg contenders that includes Robopocalypse, a sci-fi tentpole set up at Fox, and Montezuma, which tackles the drama between Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes and the famous Aztec ruler.

But Spielberg is officially committing himself to BFG and is planning a 2015 start date with a release in 2016. The question now is whether or not he fits in a smaller movie before then. DreamWorks insiders said it was not clear at this stage if he would, but the Cold War thriller with Hanks would seem the likeliest candidate.

A source with knowledge of the situation said the flurry of announcements counters "the perception that [Spielberg] is out of business with [DreamWorks CEO] Stacey Snider going to Fox and DreamWorks as we know it going away." Snider has been considered likely to take a high-level creative position at the Fox film studio, sparking speculation about the future of DreamWorks.

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