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It was a close encounter that was not meant to be.
E! News confirms that Steven Spielberg has officially exited American Sniper, which would have seen him direct Silver Linings Playbook star Bradley Cooper in a big-screen biopic about Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, considered the most lethal sniper in American military history.
According to Deadline.com, the filmmaker and DreamWorks parted ways after Spielberg felt that he wouldn't be able to execute his vision given the proposed budget.
The movie is based on Kyle's memoir, American Sniper, and chronicles the multiple tours the marksman carried out on the frontlines during the Iraq War, only to be killed at a shooting range back in February at the hands of a vet suffering from posttraumatic stress syndrome whom he was trying to help.
Cooper is still slated to produce the drama, and Spielberg and DreamWorks' departure means production partner Warner Bros. is now free to attach another director so Sniper can reach the big screen.
This isn't the first project the E.T. auteur's ditched abruptly. He was once prominently slated to helm a remake of the 1950 classic, Harvey, but pulled the plug on that project after his go-to star Tom Hanks passed on filling the Jimmy Stewart role.
Before Sniper, Spielberg had also been flirting with taking the reins on Robopocalypse, a film adaptation of Daniel H. Wilson's best-selling sci-fi novel that would have been his next directorial effort after the success of last year's Lincoln. But he and DreamWorks postponed production in January after determining the script needed more work.
Of course, the Oscar winner does have plenty of other options on the table—from a redo of John Ford's The Grapes of Wrath to respective biopics on famed Broadway composer George Gershwin and legendary Formula One racing champ James Hunt, scripts that he currently has in development.
And then, of course, there's the slew of projects he's producing including Jurassic Park IV; the next Tintin movie to be directed by Peter Jackson, The Adventures of Tintin: Prisoners of the Sun; and Transformers 4. And that's not including a host of TV series, from Halo to a long-rumored miniseries about Napoleon, fulfilling the dream of his late mentor, Stanley Kubrick, who had long sought to make a film about the French leader.
And if those don't work out, there's always a future Star Wars entry, right?