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Hit equestrian West End play War Horse is to transfer to the big screen, after Steven Spielberg’s DreamWorks Studios acquired the film rights to the original novel.

War Horse, written by former children’s laureate Michael Morpurgo, was a smash hit in the theatre, with fans including the then riding master of the Household Cavalry, Richard Waygood.

Major Waygood said: “Fifteen minutes into this play about a cavalry horse in the First World War, I started to believe I was watching real horses. It had me completely gripped.”

Mr Spielberg will produce the film and the screenplay will be written by Billy Elliot’s Lee Hall.

“From the moment I read Michael Morpurgo’s novel I knew this was a film I wanted DreamWorks to make,” Mr Spielberg told the Hollywood Reporter. “Its heart and its message provide a story that can be felt in every country.”

War Horse is currently running at the New London Theatre.