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Spielberg hops to 'Harvey' remake

August 03, 2009|Ben Fritz

Steven Spielberg has found his next project in the past.

Hollywood's most famous filmmaker will direct a remake of the 1950 movie "Harvey," which starred Jimmy Stewart as an eccentric who claims to be friends with an invisible 6-foot rabbit. It was based on a Pulitzer Prize-winning 1944 play by Mary Chase.

Spielberg is finishing work on the first of a new series of movies based on the Belgian comic strip "Tintin," which are being co-financed by Paramount Pictures and Sony Pictures. He had been considering directing several other projects in development at DreamWorks, including one about Abraham Lincoln and an adaptation of the kids' history book series "The 39 Clues."

His surprise decision to go with Fox's "Harvey" once again illustrates how, with the entertainment industry's most powerful director, it's always difficult to predict what's next.

The movie will be co-financed by 20th Century Fox, where it has been in development for more than a year, and newly reformed DreamWorks Studios. It's expected to start production early next year.

DreamWorks is said by a person familiar with the situation to be near completion of $325 million worth of debt financing, which will be matched by a $325-million investment from Indian media company Reliance Entertainment.

DreamWorks also has a loan of up to $175 million from Walt Disney Pictures, with which it signed a distribution deal earlier this year. As part of that arrangement, Disney will distribute "Harvey" in whichever territories DreamWorks ends up controlling and receive a percentage of revenue in return. Fox and DreamWorks have yet to decide which will release the movie in the U.S. and Canada and which in foreign countries.

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ben.fritz@latimes.com

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