Michael Crichton and Steven Spielberg were good friends for most of their professional lives, meeting originally in the early '70s at Universal. Their friendship's most famous by-product was "Jurassic Park" and its sequels, but they also collaborated on "E/R" and "Twister" over the years.
I guess, then, it shouldn't come as a huge surprise that they have one final collaboration developing right now, and it sounds like it could be a perfect vehicle for Spielberg to return to merge his skill at staging adventure while also indulging his appetite for history.
Anthony Breznican broke the story over at USA Today, and it looks like David Koepp (who scripted "Jurassic Park") has been brought on to adapt the script from Crichton's new book, set to be published at the end of November. Set in 1665 off the coast of Jamaica, the article describes the novel as "a daring plan to infiltrate Port Royal, one of the world's richest and most notorious cities, and raid a Spanish galleon filled with treasure."
The article quotes Stacey Snider, the CEO of DreamWorks, as saying, "It's a mission movie, and we see it through the prism of what it might have been like to live on the island during that time."
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What's tricky here is that DreamWorks recently signed a distribution deal with Disney, which, of course, had a major hit with their "Pirates Of The Caribbean" films, and they're planning to make another one in that series very soon. My guess is "Pirate Latitudes" is a very different tone and style, and besides... if Steven Spielberg tells you he wants to make a pirate movie, it doesn't matter what else your company is doing. You let Steven Spielberg make the pirate movie. I'm willing to bet that like a lot of guys his age, Spielberg was a big fan of "High Wind To Jamaica," which is set in the same general area, and I wouldn't be shocked to hear that movies like that are what have him itching to make one of his own.
I think it's terribly sad that Crichton won't be around to enjoy this newest creative union with Spielberg, but I hope this turns out to be one of the last great movies based on his work. Most of his still-unadapted books really wouldn't work as movies, and I'm guessing that even if they're optioned for film, they're going to be really difficult to pull off. Here, you're talking about a big adventure story, and you're talking about perhaps the greatest adventure filmmaker working. I love the idea of him working in this genre without the burden of Indiana Jones or George Lucas, and I'm going to cross my fingers and hope that this turns out to be the thing he makes after "Harvey," and that it is indeed the rollicking good time it sounds like it could be.
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