Universal has set a Christmas Day 2014 release for Unbroken, the film that tells the incredible story of Olympian and war hero Lou Zamperini based on Lauren Hillenbrand’s best-selling book. This will be Angelina Jolie‘s second turn as director following In The Land Of Blood And Honey. Unbroken is set to begin production in late September. “I’ve had the privilege of spending a great deal of time with Louie Zamperini, who is a hero of mine, and now—I am proud to say—a dear friend,” said Jolie in a statement. “I am deeply honored to be telling his extraordinary story, and I will do my absolute best to give him the film he deserves”. Deadline’s Mike Fleming broke the story last December that Jolie had been tapped to direct the pic, something she had campaigned hard for against several other directors.

Related: Jack O’Connell Nabs Louis Zamperini Role In ‘Unbroken’

Originally published by Random House in 2010, the book follows the incredible life story of Olympian and war hero Zamperini who, along with two other crewmen, survived in a raft for 47 days after a near-fatal plane crash in WWII—only to be caught by the Japanese Navy and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp. The project has a long history with Universal, which first acquired the rights to tell the life story of Zamperini in 1957 and optioned the rights to Hillenbrand’s book in December 2010. Joel and Ethan Coen (No Country For Old Men) rewrote the screenplay from earlier drafts by William Nicholson (Les Misérables) and Richard LaGravenese (HBO’s Behind The Candelabra). Matthew Baer and Erwin Stoff are producing and Mick Garris and David Crockett serve as executive producers. The full press release follows after the jump.

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Universal City, CA, July 10, 2013—Universal Pictures today announced that Unbroken, the new film directed by Angelina Jolie, will be released in North American theaters on December 25, 2014. Unbroken marks Jolie’s second turn behind the camera, after her critically acclaimed directorial debut, 2011’s Golden Globe Award-nominated In the Land of Blood and Honey. Based on The New York Times bestselling book “Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption” by Laura Hillenbrand (“Seabiscuit: An American Legend”), Unbroken is set to begin production in late September 2013. Jolie, who is joined on the project by fellow producers Matthew Baer (City by the Sea) and Erwin Stoff (The Day the Earth Stood Still), has been a fierce champion of bringing this incredible story of Louis “Louie” Zamperini’s bravery and heroism to the big screen. Joining the behind-the-scenes crew are an accomplished team, led by ten-time Oscar®-nominated cinematographer Roger Deakins (Skyfall), who comes aboard as director of photography, and Jon Hutman (In the Land of Blood and Honey), who reteams with Jolie as the film’s production designer.

“I’ve had the privilege of spending a great deal of time with Louie Zamperini, who is a hero of mine, and now—I am proud to say—a dear friend,” said Jolie. “I am deeply honored to be telling his extraordinary story, and I will do my absolute best to give him the film he deserves. I am grateful to Universal for making this film a priority.”

Originally published by Random House in 2010, the book follows the incredible life story of Olympian and war hero Zamperini who, along with two other crewmen, survived in a raft for 47 days after a near-fatal plane crash in WWII—only to be caught by the Japanese Navy and sent to a prisoner-of-war camp. The book has sat atop The New York Times bestseller list for more than 135 consecutive weeks and is the sixth best-selling nonfiction title ever since the list began in 1942. It was also the winner of the Los Angeles Times Book of the Year Award for Nonfiction.

The project has a long history with the studio, which first acquired the rights to tell the life story of Zamperini in 1957 and optioned the rights to Hillenbrand’s book in December 2010. Jolie was attached to direct in December 2012. Academy Award® winners Joel and Ethan Coen (No Country for Old Men) rewrote the screenplay from earlier drafts by William Nicholson (Les Misérables) and Richard LaGravenese (HBO’s Behind the Candelabra). Mick Garris and David Crockett serve as executive producers.

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