Spielberg's Abraham Lincoln project to go ahead despite competition

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Hollywood has a long history of movies being beaten into cinemas by rival projects on a similar subject, but that doesn't appear to bother Steven Spielberg. The Oscar-winning film-maker yesterday insisted he was moving forward with his long-planned biopic of Abraham Lincoln despite news of a rival project from another film-making colossus, Robert Redford.

Spielberg told Variety he had no intention of putting the kibosh on his film, set to star Liam Neeson as the US president who won the civil war and abolished slavery, even though Redford's tale is likely to arrive on the scene first. "We are very happy that Redford will be doing this Lincoln movie," he said. "It is completely different from what our DreamWorks Lincoln movie will be, and we believe that it will add to the commercial potential of our film. Lincoln as a subject is inexhaustible."

Redford announced yesterday that his independently-financed film, The Conspirator, would start shooting next month, with a cast headed by James McAvoy and Robin Wright Penn. Rather than a biopic, it is the tale of the assassination of the president by actor and Confederacy sympathiser John Wilkes Booth. The plot will focus on the story of Mary Surratt (Wright Penn), who was allegedly one of Booth's aides. McAvoy will play Frederick Aiken, an idealistic young war hero who reluctantly defends Surratt and in the process comes to believe she is innocent...

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