What’s the secret movie Spielberg and Jackson are making before ‘Tintin 2’?

Steven Spielberg is enormously clever about the way he drops hints in the press when he wants to create some buzz for something, knowing full well that any comment he makes is going to be carefully parsed for meaning and for clues about things.

Specifically, when he mentions that he and Peter Jackson are making a secret film before Jackson makes Kingdom Of The Sun, the previously-announced title for the Tintin sequel, then he has to know that people are immediately going to start guessing about what that secret film might be. I”ve seen plenty of people speculate today about what that secret film might be, with many people betting that it”s going to be The Dam Busters, the long-in-development movie about a famous bombing raid during WWII that Jackson wants to make, with WETA having spent several years building full-sized Lancaster bombers for the movie.

I wouldn”t be so sure about that. There are several other projects that Jackson has been interested in making, some of which he”s been toying with even as he was buried under the unexpected avalanche of work required to make the Hobbit trilogy. What I would love to see them make with Spielberg producing and Jackson directing is a long-rumored return to horror, set against a wartime background. I”ll tread lightly here because I don”t want to pull the curtain aside completely if I”m right, but it”s exciting to think that Jackson might be contemplating a return to the genre where he originally made his bones.

Speaking of Bones, I know several sites are pointing at comments where Jackson expressed an interest in getting back to the kind of adult drama that he did best with Heavenly Creatures, and I”ve seen at least one place list As Nature Made Him as a strong possibility. That”s a true story about David Reimer, whose gender identity was thrown into question after a botched circumcision led his parents to raise him as female. Evidently, Jackson and Fran Walsh have expressed some interest in telling that story at some point, and there”s a New Zealand connection in the form of the doctor who worked with Reimer”s parents. That may well be a project they”re developing, and I”d be thrilled to see Jackson working in drama again. But The Lovely Bones was a moment where Jackson got hammered pretty hard by the critical press, and I get the feeling Jackson is interested in making himself happy with whatever he works on these days. He made The Hobbit because he needed to, and now that he”s finished doing that, he”s earned the right to make some things that speak to him, that are going to help recharge him as a storyteller.

Making his Tintin movie is certainly part of that. Like Spielberg, Jackson grew up with the Tintin books, and he has a real passion for the character. I”ve rewatched The Adventures Of Tintin: Secret Of The Unicorn a few times since it came out, and the thing that is most thrilling about it is seeing just how much Spielberg enjoyed the tools that came with the jump from live-action to digital motion-capture performance-based animation. There was a freedom to the camerawork, a sort of giddy explosive invention, and if anything, Jackson is even more comfortable with these tools than Spielberg was. I”m dying to see what he does with this kind of pure adventure storytelling, and I love that thanks to these movies being animated, they don”t have to worry about Tintin aging at all. He”s always going to be Tintin, exactly the age and design that they want. I”m glad to hear that they”re still committed to making Jackson”s film, and I”d love to know if the third filmmaker who was involved at one point is still involved now.

For now, though, I”m more interested in this secret film. If this is the weird war machine/monster mash-up movie that Jackson”s been playing around with for a while, it could be one of the coolest and strangest things Spielberg”s even been involved in as a producer, and it could be exactly what Jackson needs to make in order to finally put Middle Earth behind him.

In the meantime, Spielberg”s The BFG arrives in theaters everywhere today.