Tintin: Spielberg's 2011 Christmas present

LOS ANGELES: Belgium's intrepid cub reporter will be breaking his first big-screen story in time for Christmas 2011. Paramount Pictures and Sony Pictures Entertainment have announced that Steven Spielberg's big-budget gamble The Adventures of Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn will hit theaters Dec. 23, 2011.

The two studios are coproducing the 3-D motion-capture event film, the first in a pair the E.T. director is doing with Lord of the Rings master Peter Jackson (who will helm the sequel). But in an unusual move, Paramount and Sony plan to roll out Tintin internationally up to two months before the U.S. release.

The strategy is the reverse of Hollywood's normal distribution pattern, but makes sense since it enables the partnering companies to capitalize on the comic book character's popularity abroad and build buzz, since Tintin is not well known stateside.

The film, which Spielberg started shooting in January, stars Jamie Bell as the titular hero and Daniel Craig as the despicable pirate Red Rackham. Andy Serkis, Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Toby Jones also star.

Tintin will face some family-friend competition during the 2011 holiday season, with Warner Bros. set to release Happy Feet 2 and Disney/Pixar unleashing The Bear and the Bow.