Steven Spielberg Backs Away From 'Harvey' Remake

In early August it was revealed that Steven Spielberg would next be directing "Harvey," a remake of the Jimmy Stewart-starring 1950 film about a man whose best friend is a 6-foot-tall invisible rabbit. Rumors pointed to Tom Hanks and, later, Robert Downey Jr. for the starring role of Elwood P. Dowd, but there's been little hard news on the project since the initial announcement.

Today brings some news, but it's shaped suspiciously like a big, fat coffin nail. Spielberg has withdrawn from the project, Variety reports. The trade reveals that the filmmaker had spent the past half year developing "Harvey," but that he's now dropped out for unspecified reasons. We can certainly theorize though.

As the article says, it's likely that Spielberg pulled up the stakes because he couldn't land the star he wanted for the Elwood role. Hanks reportedly turned down the part in an effort to get away from the "modern day Jimmy Stewart" label that some have slapped on him. Downey Jr. was more open, reportedly suggesting script rewrites; unfortunately, his vision didn't match up well enough with Spielberg's to make the casting happen.

To be perfectly honest with you, I take tremendous comfort in this news. I was a bit crestfallen when it came out that Spielberg's "Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull" follow-up would be a remake of a 1950 movie, itself an adaptation of an older play, about a man and his invisible rabbit friend. Surely the man responsible for bringing blockbuster event films into the world can aim a little higher than that.

Yes, I know Spielberg excels just as much at telling smaller, more character-driven tales as he does at relating epic-scale adventures, but I personally prefer the latter. The next project he's down for is the animated "The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn," but that's already in the post-production stage. The report gives no indication of what he might be moving on to, so we'll just have to speculate for now. Fox, which was going to release "Harvey" in cooperation with Spielberg's DreamWorks, will continue in trying to get their invisible rabbit remake off the ground.

What would you like to see Spielberg do next? Are you saddened by the "Harvey" withdrawal? Pleased?