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Steven Spielberg to direct first film for Disney

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MUMBAI: The Walt Disney Studios has joined the production of Steven Spielberg’s film adaptation of Roald Dahl‘s The BFG (Big Friendly Giant). 

While the filmmaker has produced movies for the studio in the past, this will mark the first time that Spielberg will direct a Disney-branded movie.

“In more than 40 years of making movies, I have been on the producing end of a number of films for The Walt Disney Company, but never as a director. It is a special joy to be in the director’s chair as we start The BFG, alongside my long-time friends and film collaborators Kathy Kennedy, who introduced me to this project, Frank Marshall and Melissa Mathison. Together with them and Disney, there are many reasons why I am so excited about this joint venture,” said Spielberg.

Previously announced cast of the movie include three-time Tony Award winner Mark Rylance, who will play the titular “Big Friendly Giant” and newcomer Ruby Barnhill as Sophie. They are now joined by Bill Hader, Jemaine Clement, Michael David Adamthwaite, Daniel Bacon, Chris Gibbs, Adam Godley, Jonathan Holmes, Paul Moniz de Sa and Olafur Olaffson, all cast as giants. Buckingham Palace has also found its residents with Penelope Wilton being cast as The Queen and Rebecca Hall as Mary, the Queen’s maid.

Production for The BFG is currently underway in Vancouver. 

“With Steven Spielberg at the helm, The BFG will undoubtedly capture the minds of children and adults alike – as Roald Dahl’s original stories and many of Steven’s own films have done for decades. The team at Disney has tremendous respect for the filmmakers, and we’re thrilled to join with them to make what will be a spectacular picture,” said The Walt Disney Studios chairman Alan Horn.

“This partnership speaks to the spirit of storytelling and the kinds of movies that we make here. Over the years, we have enjoyed a fruitful collaboration, and we couldn’t be more excited to be working with Disney in this expanded capacity on The BFG,” added DreamWorks Studios CEO Michael Wright. 

The BFG is the exciting tale of a young London girl and the mysterious Giant who introduces her to the wonders and perils of Giant Country. Based on the novel by Dahl, The BFG was published in 1982 and has been enchanting readers of all ages ever since. Dahl’s books, which also include Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,James and the Giant PeachMatilda and Fantastic Mr. Fox, are currently available in 58 languages and have sold over 200 million copies worldwide.

Spielberg will direct the film adaptation based on a script by Melissa Mathison, who last teamed with Spielberg on E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial.

Spielberg, Frank Marshall and Sam Mercer will produce while Kathleen Kennedy, John Madden, Michael Siegel and Kristie Macosko Krieger are on board as executive producers. Adam Somner is a co-producer.

The Disney/Amblin/Reliance production in association with Walden Media will open in US theaters on 1 July, 2016, the year that coincides with the 100th anniversary of Dahl’s birth.

The Walt Disney Studios will distribute the film in the US and several international territories while Mister Smith Entertainment will oversee distribution in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Reliance will distribute the film in India.

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