Spielberg rides with ‘War Horse’

Disney, DreamWorks set release for Aug. 10, 2011

Steven Spielberg has selected his next directing job: World War I epic “War Horse.”

Disney and DreamWorks will release the film Aug. 10, 2011.

“War Horse” is based on Michael Morpurgo’s novel of the same name, as well as a stage adaptation. Spielberg is producing with Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall and Revel Guest. Scribes Lee Hall and Richard Curtis are penning the adapted script.

Set against the sweeping backdrop of the Great War, storyline 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 Great War was a natural topic for Spielberg to take on. He’s already explored World War II in a number of projects, including directing “Saving Private Ryan.” He exec produced HBO’s “Band of Brothers,” and more recently, the pay cabler’s “The Pacific.”

Spielberg’s process is to develop several projects at a time before deciding which one he’ll direct next. In this case, he also was weighing “Robopocalypse” and biopic “Gershwin.”

The director is next in theaters with 3D family pic “The Adventures of Tin-Tin: The Secret of the Unicorn,” which unspools Dec. 23, 2011.

Spielberg and DreamWorks co-chair-CEO Stacey Snider acquired the rights to Morpurgo’s “War Horse” last fall.

At that time, 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.

“War Horse” was first published in 1982 when it was a runner-up for the prestigious Whitbread Award. Morpurgo is the best-selling author of more than 120 books for children including “Kensuke’s Kingdom” and “Private Peaceful.”

The hit stage adaptation of “War Horse,” written by Nick Stafford and directed by Marianne Elliott and Tom Morris, was first produced at London’s National Theater in 2007. It has since played successful repeat engagements in the West End.

Tatiana Siegel contributed to this report.

Update: Spielberg takes reins on ‘War Horse’