Steven Spielberg Talks LINCOLN and ROBOPOCALYPSE

     September 29, 2011


After his three-year absence after Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Steven Spielberg has come back with a vengeance, at least in terms of output.  This December he’ll have The Adventures of Tintin and War Horse (one for box office, one for Oscars) and next November or December, he’ll have his Lincoln biopic followed by the action film Robopocalypse on July 3, 2013.  As Tintin gears up for its European tour, Spielberg has been doing the press rounds and commented on Lincoln and Robopocalypse.  For his robot disaster flick, Spielberg seemed a little uncertain on the release date, but he says he’s already in pre-production and hopes to shoot in 2012.  He adds, “It reminded me of Michael Crichton.”  Before that makes you shudder, keep in mind that he took the poorly-written Jurassic Park and made magic out of that. [Update: I should clarify that Jurassic Park has a strong central idea and good characters, but Spielberg and David Koepp tightened the plotting and excised dumb scenes like where Hammond is eaten by tiny dinosaurs and the ending where the characters are denied re-entry into the U.S.]

Hit the jump for what Spielberg had to say about Lincoln.

team-of-rivals-book-cover-01In his interview with Empire, Spielberg reiterated his intention to take Doris Kearns Goodwin’s historical tome Team of Rivals and put the focus on the final months of Abraham Lincoln’s life.  The Oscar-winning director elaborated:

We start shooting in October. Doris Kearns Goodwin’s book Team of Rivals is much too big a book to be a movie, so the Lincoln story only takes place in the last few months of his Presidency and life. I was interested in how he ended the war through all the efforts of his generals…but more importantly how he passed the 13th Amendment into constitutional law. The Emancipation Proclamation was a war powers act and could have been struck down by any court after the war ended…But what permanently ended slavery was the very close vote in the House of Representatives over the 13th Amendment – that story I’m excited to tell.”

It’s an interesting point to focus on, especially because what’s fascinating about Goodwin’s book is how Lincoln not only brought together his Presidential rivals, but how each member of his cabinet was crucial in bringing the Civil War to a close.  I don’t think Spielberg is missing the point of the novel nor do I think he must use it.  However, people shouldn’t think that this is Amistad 2:

Amistad is much more visual than Lincoln is going to be. It feels very much like a procedural. It shows Lincoln at work, not just Lincoln standing around posing for the history books…arguably the greatest working President in American history doing some of the greatest work for the world.

If that means Lincoln is The West Wing: 1865, bring it on.


  • IllusionOfLife

    I have high hopes for these, Spielberg has made mistakes in the past, but he always tends to come back from his mistakes with a bonafide home run. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was a horrendous mistake, so I hope Tintin and War Horse just absolutely knock it out of the park.

  • mrbatmatt

    “The West Wing: 1865″ That would be amazing, Although I do think the patented walk’n'tall would be a bit more meandering. And I don’t think the war room sequences would be all that exciting waiting for carrier pigeons to drop off letters back and forth.

    • mrbatmatt

      that was to be “walk’n’talk” apparently I have no capacity for spelling.

  • dogsoldier

    Poorly written? If anything was poorly written it was the script and even worse the sequel. Jurassic Park was a good movie, but the book was better. Crichton was a great novelist, show some respect douche.

    • KorbenDallas


    • louim


    • Tim

      +Infinity. What the hell is wrong with you Goldberg, how many Crichton novels have you even read?

  • KorbenDallas

    Why would Spielberg’s reference to Michael Crichton make anyone shudder? The Jurassic Park novel is considered to be one of the best science fiction novels of all time. Sphere, Congo, Andromeda Strain, and so on are sci-fi novel classics as well.

    Novels is Michael Crichton’s legacy, not screenplays.

    • louim

      I have no idea, Crichton was one of the greatest science fiction authors in recent history. The books (especially the sequel) was much better than the movies.

  • The great Con

    Here I was going to defend the late, great Dr. Crichton whose novels showed originality, flair and a wonderful dedication to science but then I read the last post and didn’t want to throw my hat into the ring with anyone who ends their comment with “douche.” So instead I’ll say that Crichton’s novels are prone to weak characters and so it’s understandable if you don’t dig them. Some people just prefer character to plot and I can’t fault that. It definitely doesn’t put you into the “douche” category.

    • GiffordPynchon

      O my, a reasonable person with a sound argument on the internet. Burn him!

      • KorbenDallas

        The “golden years” of Crichton novels are strong on character AND plot: Jurassic Park, Sphere, Congo, Rising Sun, Disclosure, etc. (I know I’m forgetting a few.) But, in my rebuttal there is an opinion of which novels are Crichton’s “golden years”. Some ascertain it’s his earlier works like the Great Train Robbery, Andromeda Strain, etc.

        I would agree that the later novels had weak characters such as Airframe and Prey.

        Boy we fell right into Matt’s bait huh? Creating a discussion in blog comments is great SERP juice. Congrats to Matt for being ignorant yet still accomplishing his purpose.

  • pills_26

    Fuck yeah West Wing: 1865!

  • G

    Jurrassic park rocks…you also said that The Girl with the Dragon tatoo was “poor” source material. I will no longer trust your judgement on books.

  • Mr.whiskers

    Im glad Im not the only one who shuddered at the “poorly-written Jurassic Park” line. I mean sure he isnt the best writer there is but you cant call Micheals novels “poorly-writen” when he has sold millions of copies of jurassic park alone. I could be a complete ass and ask how many followers you have to your writings but I wont. I would suggest in the future you realize that even though you may not like a certain writer it doesnt make their novels bad.

  • Wait a sec

    If Koepp did such a good job tightening the script of ‘Jurassic Park’ by dropping the scene were Hammond was eaten by tiny dinosaurs why did he recycle it into ‘The Lost World’ script for other characters fate? It sure as hell wasn’t in the Lost World novel.

  • Lt. Ripley

    Did Koepp do the JPIII screenplay? I loved how the movie’s entire M.O. was to take action scenes from the books that didn’t make it into the movies and smash ‘em all together. Good times.

  • anon

    If by less visual than Amistad, he means that there will be even more endless dialogue scenes between bearded white men in dimly lit rooms than in Amistad…..then fuck….Lincoln is prime to unseat Amistad as Spielberg most interminable film.

  • Bonobo

    Come on guys (and gals… we wish), Crighton wrote high concept novels where his burning enthusiasm for the core idea – and nothing else, except perhaps the surrounding science – served as an impregnable shield against character, wit, lyricism and any sort of peripheral interests, subtlety or beauty. His novels seem to be written desperately fast in order to get it all on the page before that high of having a stellar idea fades completely (and the drudgery of honing your prose begins).

    Now, If that initial Idea was good enough, as in Jurassic Park, that could make for a few hundred entertaining pages – but unless you subscribe to a completely relative view of taste (as many do, without really having considered the implications), no amount of copies sold is going to make Jurassic Park a good novel.

    (PS: why would anyone even bother showing up on a forum like this and argue that popularity equals worth? If that were the case we needn’t debate any of this, only wait for the box office results every sunday night to see what’s what).

  • Daniel

    It does seem churlish to suggest that one of the most popular writers of the 20th century’s most popular novel is poorly-written; and often there is a case to be made for popularity as a indicator of quality. For every “Transformers” (shitty movie by any measure except box office), there’s a “Ghostbusters” (initially dismissed by critics, beloved by audiences, now considered a classic). Plus, I’ve read “Jurassic Park” and I think it’s pretty great. So, basically, I disagree.

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  • it up

    —same —same, —seen it!

    Meanwhile, the Spielberg capstone Hollywood franchises
    slum mafia is not only predictive programming the Globalist
    EUGENICS agenda —–while ‘percveption managing’ the
    handover of the entire American economy to RED China
    ——-but they are ‘mysteriously overlooking’; decades upon
    decades of milestone anniversaries for the awesomely relevant

    ———————————–KOREAN WAR———————————–

    LOOK around yourself at what’s unfolding.

    –It ain’t good.