Filmmaker Steven Spielberg is famous for his block-busting, but he’s made a habit of shooting prestigious dramas back-to-back with crowd-pleasing tentpoles; beginning with Schindler’s List and Jurassic Park in 1993, Spielberg did it again as recently as 2011, with War Horse and The Adventures of Tintin. While the director has been circling a handful of high-minded historical motion pictures of late, these past couple weeks it’s seemed as though his next trick would be to move ahead with production on his delayed apocalyptic sci-fi thriller, fittingly titled Robopocalypse.
However, in a surprise twist, the news has now emerged that Spielberg’s next big-budget venture will be a live-action adaptation of the Roald Dahl novel The BFG. Truth be told, this news isn’t completely shocking, as the adapted script for the project is written by Melissa Mathison, who also wrote Spielberg’s beloved boy-meets-alien film E.T. over thirty years ago. Matison was formally hired to work on the BFG screenplay back in 2011, so the script ought to be all but ready to go by now; good news too, since Spielberg is, by all accounts, eager to get back in the director’s chair.
He’s so eager, in fact, that The BFG might not be the next film that Spielberg directs. According to the report by THR, Spielberg is “officially committing” to the Dahl adaptation, with a 2015 start date in mind to make a 2016 release date. That leaves room in Spielberg’s work schedule for him to work on a smaller-scale movie first, before he jumps right into principal photography on BFG – meaning, we could have yet another case on our hands, where Spielberg releases two films of a very different color within close proximity of one another.
Development is underway on two historical drama scripts – The Kidnapping of Edgardo Mortara by Tony Kushner (Lincoln) and Montezuma by Steve Zaillian (The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) – for Spielberg to direct, though last we heard neither one is done. Earlier this week, THR reported that Spielberg intends to direct a film about the true-story of James Donovan, an American attorney who negotiated the release of a downed U-2 spy plane pilot during the Cold War; that script by Matt Charman (Oakfield) is ready to go, with a leading man attached in Tom Hanks (who previously starred in Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan, Catch Me If You Can, and The Terminal). Hence, Spielberg could make that movie, then jump right into filming BFG.
Dahl’s The BFG – previously adapted as an animated feature back in 1989 – tells the story of young orphan Sophie, who is whisked away one night by the Big Friendly Giant (BFG for short): a kind, jolly giant, whose job is to deliver pleasant dreams to children, even though he hales from a faraway land populated by larger, blood-thirsty giants.
It’s the sort of whimsical, yet dark, fantasy adventure that lies in Spielberg’s wheelhouse and would play to his strength as a director who’s known for getting strong performances from child actors; that the protagonist in BFG is a young girl, rather than a young boy like in E.T. or Spielberg’s Empire of the Sun, makes the film all the more intriguing, as a slight change of pace for Spielberg. Movies based on Dahl books can be mixed in quality, though a BFG film by Spielberg could stand out as one of the better ones – even if the director plays up the idea of the BFG becoming a good father-figure to Sophie (… which he probably will, given his habit of exploring daddy issues).
I’ve already thrown in my vote for Oscar-nominee James Cromwell (American Horror Story: Asylum) to play the Big Friendly Giant in a live-action film, based on his looks and his talents as a character actor. Feel fee to pitch your own dream casting for the title character (and/or Sophie), in the comments section.
We’ll keep you posted on news concerning The BFG and other developing Spielberg projects.