Angelina Jolie's 'Unbroken' to Hit Theaters in December 2014

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Angelina Jolie

The release date puts the film adaptation of Laura Hillenbrand's acclaimed 2010 book in the heart of awards season.

Universal has set a Christmas Day 2014 release for World War II drama Unbroken, which marks Angelina Jolie's second directorial effort.

The coveted release positions the film -- an adaptation of Laura Hillenbrand’s acclaimed 2010 book about World War II hero Lou Zamperini -- for an awards run. Ethan and Joel Coen are writing the script from previous drafts by William Nicholson and Richard LaGravenese.

Universal picked up the rights to the book in January 2011, initially for Francis Lawrence to direct. Jolie boarded the project in December.

STORY: Angelina Jolie to Direct WWII Drama 'Unbroken' 

Zamperini was a Los Angeles high school track star who raced in the 1936 Berlin Olympics on the U.S. team that included Jesse Owens. In 1943, his Air Force plane crashed in the Pacific. He survived without food and water for 47 days, enduring shark attacks, aerial attacks and hunger before washing ashore on a Japanese island behind enemy lines, where he was held as a prisoner of war for two years and tortured by his captors.

“I’ve had the privilege of spending a great deal of time with Louie Zamperini, who is a hero of mine, and now -- I am proud to say -- a dear friend,” said Jolie.  “I am deeply honored to be telling his extraordinary story, and I will do my absolute best to give him the film he deserves. I am grateful to Universal for making this film a priority.”

Jolie, who previously directed In the Land of Blood and Honey, is producing with Matthew Baer and Erwin Stoff. Walden Media will co-finance the film, which is set to start production in September. Ten-time Oscar nominee Roger Deakins has boarded the project as cinematographer.