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Jake Gittes

The Fabelmans | Steven Spielberg's autobiographical coming-of-age-drama | Michelle Williams, Paul Dano, Seth Rogen, Judd Hirsch, and DAVID LYNCH | November 11, 2022 (limited), November 23 (wide)

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Many people have wanted and tried to be the next Steven Spielberg, but now someone may actually be Steven Spielberg… as a teen boy, that is.


According to multiple sources, Spielberg is working on his post-West Side Story movie project, a story rooted in his childhood that he wrote with Tony Kushner, a frequent collaborator with whom he worked on films such as Munich and Lincoln, and will direct.


The filmmaking legend is enlisting four-time Oscar nominee Michelle Williams as one of the leads and, under the radar, is conducting test screenings for young actors that would star in the modestly-budgeted untitled drama that said to be loosely based by the filmmaker’s formative years and by his relationship with his parents.


A July start date is being scheduled with a plan for a release in 2022.


Plot details for the untitled project are being kept secret but one aspect of  the project is a split time period that would focus on the character, who is not being called Steven, according to sources, as a young child and also a teen living in Phoenix, Arizona.


Phoenix is where Spielberg lived in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The filmmaker has spoken numerous times about those years, in which he faced anti-Semitism while also making home movies and adventure movies using his father’s 8 mm camera that he entered into contests. (The latter was a focus on his 2011 collaboration with J.J. Abrams, Super 8.)


Spielberg’s family moved to California while he was still in high school and later his parents divorced, with the budding filmmaker moving in with his father. He has spoken publicly about how he maintained his mother on a pedestal but had a strained relationship with father, a relationship that would inform movies ranging from E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial to Hook and Jurassic Park to Lincoln and Catch Me If You Can.


(One aspect that is unclear is whether the project is a period piece.)


Williams, who is in negotiations, is said to be playing the mother while a range of a dozen or so teen and kid roles, two of them leading, are being sought.


Supporting teen and child roles are also a big push as friend characters are also an important focus of the project. 



Edited by Jake Gittes
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The combo of Spielberg and Williams is really exciting. I assume this would have been be out in time for next awards season (since he tends to shoot his dramas quickly) if West Side Story hadn't been pushed back an entire year.

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This seems like the most interesting project he’s done in awhile. But I’m also a bit wary of it — it feels like it could be dangerously on the nose. So much of earlier Spielberg movies mined the essence of his childhood (consciously and unconsciously) — Close Encounters and E.T. are probably the most immediately obvious — and I wonder what this will

say when the subtext becomes, well, text.  

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Important detail about this film in the article:



Spielberg will direct and has also written with oft-collaborator Tony Kushner an Amblin-produced film based loosely on the master filmmaker’s childhood growing up in Arizona, with Michelle Williams, Paul Dano, Gabriel LaBelle, Seth Rogen and Julia Butters. One would assume there might be some jockeying between Universal and Netflix over a film like that but that one will go through a theatrical release at Universal.


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