Steven Spielberg's The Fabelmans: Release Date, Cast, And More [UPDATE]

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For as much as Steven Spielberg's real-life childhood experiences have manifested themselves in his work, he's surprisingly never made a full-blown autobiographical film about his youth in the vein of Alfonso Cuarón's "Roma" and Kenneth Branagh's "Belfast" (to cite two recent examples of movies inspired by their directors' upbringing). That changes with "The Fabelmans," a coming of age drama that's loosely based on Spielberg's time growing up in Phoenix, Arizona, and fostering his love of cinema, years before he moved to California to study film at CSU, Long Beach.

Whereas Susan Lacy's 2017 documentary "Spielberg" pulled back the curtain on the filmmaker's life and relationship with his parents, warts and all, "The Fabelmans" looks to play a little more fast-and-loose with the facts of his story. But more than that, the movie gives Spielberg a chance to do the kind of self-reflection that he simply wasn't capable of when he wove aspects of his childhood into his now-classic movies from the 1970s and '80s (specifically, "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" and "E.T.").

The Fabelmans Release Date and Where You Can Watch It

Universal Pictures will debut "The Fabelmans" in theaters on November 23, 2022, making it the first Spielberg-directed movie the studio has distributed stateside since 2005's "Munich." As with the decision to delay his "West Side Story" remake a year due to Covid, "The Fabelmans" getting a theatrical-exclusive run is in keeping with Spielberg's commitment to premiering his movies on the big screen as often as possible. All the same, he continued to evolve with the changing times this year by signing a deal to produce multiple films for Netflix (including streaming exclusives) through his Amblin Partners banner.

While it may not be an extravagant musical or special effects-driven extravaganza, it stands to reason "The Fabelmans" will benefit from being seen in a theater — just like almost every other movie Spielberg has ever directed, good and bad. Still, if it doesn't seem worth trekking to your local cineplex to see in the age of Covid (which is fair), you won't have to wait too long for "The Fablemans" to become available to watch from the comfort of your home.

Update: Universal announced that they would be releasing Spielberg's "The Fabelmans" on November 11, 2022, exclusively in Los Angeles and New York, ahead of the planned November 23 release date, according to Amblin. 

What Is The Fabelmans?

By the sound of it, "The Fabelmans" will take inspiration from Spielberg's youth without merely recreating his childhood (in the same way "Roma" and "Belfast" aren't docudramas). It's plausible the film's plot will instead parallel what happened to Spielberg in his early life, like how he began making home movies when he was 12 or came to truly realize the power of cinema upon seeing "Lawrence of Arabia." One assumes "The Fabelmans" will also touch on the young Spielberg's life outside of watching and directing films, such as his time as a Boy Scout and struggles with his Jewish heritage, as well as the anti-Semitism he faced growing up.

On that note: it will be interesting to see how "The Fabelmans" handles the thorny subject of Spielberg's parents and their divorce. Spielberg infamously became estranged from his father for years after they split, giving rise to the flawed father motif that has shown up in so many of his films. It wasn't until later that Spielberg learned the messy truth about why his parents' marriage crumbled and rekindled ties with his father (as detailed in Lacy's documentary). As such, "The Fabelmans" gives him a chance to re-examine what happened with this knowledge in hand.

The Fabelmans Cast

Gabriel LaBelle ("Brand New Cherry Flavor") is playing the young Spielberg's stand-in, Sammy Fabelman, in "The Fabelmans," with Michelle Williams ("Venom: Let There Be Carnage") and Paul Dano ("Escape at Dannemora") co-starring as Sammy's mother and father. Seth Rogen ("An American Pickle") will also play a key role as Sammy's uncle, a character modeled after Spielberg's favorite uncle when he was growing up.

Other cast members include Julia Butters ("Once Upon a Time in Hollywood") as Sammy's sister Anne, a character who is similarly based on Spielberg's sister Anne Spielberg: the Oscar-nominated co-writer of the 1988 Tom Hanks comedy classic "Big." Rounding out the "Fabelmans" ensemble are such actors as Oakes Fegley ("Wonderstruck"), Gabriel Bateman ("Lights Out"), Judd Hirsch ("Independence Day"), Nicolas Cantu ("The Walking Dead: Worlds Beyond"), Isabelle Kusman ("Licorice Pizza"), and Robin Bartlett ("The Shrink Next Door"), the vast majority of whom are playing as-yet unknown roles in the film.

The Fabelmans Director, Writers, and More

Spielberg is directing "The Fabelmans" from a script he co-wrote with Tony Kushner, making this the fourth collaboration between the filmmaker and the Pulitzer Prize-winning "Angels in America" playwright after Kushner's script work on "Munich," "Lincoln," and "West Side Story." This is also the first time Spielberg has formally scripted one of his directorial efforts since 2001's "A.I. Artificial Intelligence," as well as his fourth screenplay credit after that movie, "Close Encounters of the Third Kind," and "Poltergeist" (although he's received story credit on other films).

"The Fabelmans" reunites Spielberg with many other creatives behind the camera as well, including his longtime cinematographer Janusz Kamiński, editor Sarah Broshar (who edited his last three directorial efforts), and Oscar-winning production designer Rick Carter ("Lincoln," "The Post"). Given that it's shaping up to be his most personal movie yet in a long career of making films that deal with issues and topics close to his heart, it only feels right that Spielberg is bringing many of his trusted friends along for this journey into his past.