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Spielberg takes on Crichton's "Pirate Latitudes"

By Jay A. Fernandez

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - It's a 7-year-old boy's dream team -- Steven Spielberg, Michael Crichton and David Koepp moving on from rampaging dinosaurs to marauding pirates.

DreamWorks Studios has acquired the film rights to the action-adventure novel "Pirate Latitudes," which Crichton wrote just before his death in November. Spielberg, who directed Koepp's adaptations of Crichton's "Jurassic Park" and "The Lost World," will produce the film and possibly direct.

Koepp has signed on to write the adaptation.

"Michael was a scrupulous researcher and one of the most innovative writers of our era," said Koepp. "To have gotten to work with one of his novels was a privilege; to work with three seems like a dream."

"Latitudes," which takes place in 1665, is about 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. HarperCollins will publish the novel, which Crichton's assistant found as a completed manuscript after his death, on November 24.

Crichton and Spielberg also collaborated on the long-running medical drama "ER," which they launched together in 1994.

"Michael Crichton was one of our greatest storytellers who expanded all of our imaginations with his books, films and television," said Spielberg. "With the 'ER' series and 'Jurassic Park' series, I enjoyed one of the best collaborations of my career. Now with 'Pirate Latitudes,' I and all of us at DreamWorks have the chance to be excited about bringing this new Michael Crichton work to the screen."

A Harvard medical school graduate, Crichton published deeply researched novels, typically about technology run amok, for 40 years. A dozen of his books were adapted into films, and he also wrote original screenplays -- among them "Twister," "Runaway," "Looker" and "Westworld" -- some of which he directed as well.

Koepp also worked on the screenplays for Spielberg's "War of the Worlds" and "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull." He additionally wrote and directed "Ghost Town" for DreamWorks last year.

Spielberg is finishing up "The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn" for Paramount and Sony before moving on to his remake of "Harvey" for DreamWorks and Fox.

(Editing by SheriLinden at Reuters)

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