Eastwood's 'Invictus' stars Freeman, Damon

Warner Bros. will open Clint Eastwood’s “Invictus,” the Nelson Mandela pic toplining Morgan Freeman, on Dec. 11.

Matt Damon also stars.

Film’s working title had been “The Human Factor,” adapted from John Carlin’s tome “Playing the Enemy: Nelson Mandela and the Game That Made a Nation.”

“Invictus” follows Mandela’s attempt to use the 1995 Rugby World Cup to heal his nation following his release from prison, the fall of apartheid and his election as president of South Africa.

Damon portrays Francois Pienaar, the captain of the South African rugby team.

Eastwood drew the title of the film from a short poem often recited by Mandela. “Invictus,” penned by William Ernest Henley, speaks to the will to survive in the face of adversity.

“Invictus” isn’t the first picture to claim Dec. 11. Also opening that weekend is Peter Jackson’s “The Lovely Bones,” from Paramount and DreamWorks.

The Dec. 11 release puts “Invictus” and “Lovely Bones” in the heart of awards season.

Eastwood, Hollywood’s most prolific director in the past several years, opened two films in fall 2007 and another two in 2008, “Changeling” and “Gran Torino.”

“Gran Torino,” in which Eastwood also starred, is the filmmaker’s most successful box office title to date, earning $148 million domestically and $112.5 million overseas, where he also enjoys iconic status.

Warners, which has long been in business with Eastwood, released “Gran Torino.”

As of now, “Invictus” is set to open wide, although that could change.

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