Steven Spielberg is going to need a bigger boat -- a much, much bigger boat. He's leaving this shore, sailing away to 17th century Jamaica for one last adventure with the late Michael Crichton. USA Today reports that DreamWorks has bought the rights to Crichton's posthumous novel, Pirate Latitudes, and has hired screenwriter David Koepp to develop it into a film. Spielberg is producing, but plans on directing, though nothing has been scheduled until the script is completed.

While it's a bittersweet reunion, it's one that's sheer luck and coincidence according to DreamWorks' co-chair and CEO Stacey Snider. "Anything that Michael wrote, Steven would be keenly interested to read. But without Michael knowing it, or even me knowing it, it turns out Steven always wanted to direct his own pirate film." Not surprisingly, Spielberg already is coolly confident in Pirate Latitudes. "Michael wrote a real page-turner that already seems suited for the big screen. Michael and I have had almost two decades of solid collaborations. Whenever I made a film from a Michael Crichton book or screenplay, I knew I was in good hands. Michael felt the same, and we like to think he still does."

Pirate Latitudes doesn't hit store shelves until November 24, so plot details are relatively scarce. But this isn't going to be a tale of undead pirates and squid-faced Davey Jones like Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean. Latitudes is a semi-historical tale of piracy that takes place in 1665. Its star is the dashing Captain Edward Hunter, who infiltrates the notorious Port Royal, and plans to raid a Spanish galleon loaded with treasure. Cue the cannons and swashbuckling, though it sounds as though Spielberg plans to load it up with lots of grimy, historical details.


This is just cool news all around. It's about time Jack Sparrow got some competition, and I know I'm not alone in craving another glorious, original adventure story from Spielberg. While I haven't been a fan of many of Crichton's historical stories (I know I should have liked Timeline and Eaters of the Dead, but I just couldn't), I'm a little more optimistic about anything based in Port Royal. It's a period of history that there's a lot of escapist room in, and I'm far happier watching pure fiction if it's based in pillaging. I know there are plenty of ways this can fail, but there's just as many ways a Spielberg-Crichton pirate story can go right. I can't wait to watch this one come together.