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Spielberg teams with Cruise for ''War of the Worlds''

Spielberg teams with Cruise for ”War of the Worlds.” The ”Minority Report” team hopes to update H.G. Wells’ sci-fi classic next year

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Politically correct Hollywood may have run out of ethnic groups to stereotype as movie villains, but Martians will always be fair game. Tom Cruise, who has been developing an update of H.G. Wells’ Martian-invasion classic ”War of the Worlds” for two years, has finally found a director to take on the project: according to Variety, it’s Steven Spielberg, who directed Cruise in another sci-fi saga, 2002’s ”Minority Report.”

”War of the Worlds” has been adapted before, most famously by Orson Welles as a 1938 radio drama that convinced some listeners they were hearing news reports of an actual Martian invasion, as a 1953 movie by George Pal, and in parody form by Tim Burton as ”Mars Attacks!” (1996). The Cruise-Spielberg version would be a big-budget action spectacle, co-financed by Paramount (home of Cruise’s production company) and Spielberg’s DreamWorks studio. ”Secret Window” writer-director David Koepp, who wrote the two ”Jurassic Park” movies that Spielberg directed, will write the screenplay.

There’s still the question of when the two busy Hollywood titans can make time to shoot the movie. Spielberg, who’s currently wrapping ”Terminal” with Tom Hanks, was supposed to direct ”Indiana Jones 4” next, but with that film in script limbo, he’s looking at ”The Rivals,” about 19th-century stage legends Sarah Bernhardt and Eleonora Duse. Cruise will be shooting ”Mission: Impossible 3” this summer with ”Narc” director Joe Carnahan. According to Variety, it may be late 2005 before ”War of the Worlds” goes before the cameras.