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Germany

Release of Tom Cruise's World War II Epic Delayed

A movie in which Tom Cruise plays a true-life German World War II hero will not reach screens until February 2009, the producers said as Germans were getting ready to mark the 64th anniversary of the anti-Hitler plot.

Tom Cruise as failed German Hitler assassin Col. Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg in a scene of the movie 'Valkyrie'

Tom Cruise's attempt on Hitler's life won't be seen in cinemas until next year

"Valkyrie" was meant to launch this summer as public interest grows in the failed bid to assassinate the Nazi dictator on July 20, 1944.

The German armed forces revere the chief plotter, Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg, as a paragon of self-initiative and courage, and are set to hold a torchlit parade on Sunday in Berlin in his memory.

The film's German-language website includes both a promotional video in English still giving the 2008 release date and a fast-moving trailer in German stating the German theatre release will be on February 5. Talk of an autumn release has come to nothing.

Carl Woebcken, chief executive of Studio Babelsberg, which is co- producing the movie with Cruise's company United Artists, said the delay was beneficial since the film could earn better box-office receipts next year.

"Shooting has only just finished," he said. "We're likely to have the first rough edit of the movie by the end of July."

Location filming in Germany began in July last year, just as Germany was gearing up to mark the 63rd anniversary of the plot, and lasted till October. The director was Bryan Singer.

Cruise, who plays Stauffenberg, is the main face in the trailer.

The video uses overlays with a real-life Stauffenberg photo to assert that he is the spitting image of the German aristocrat, who placed a bomb near Hitler's knees at the dictator's Wolf's Lair headquarter. Hitler survived the blast with cuts.

The fact that the audience will know from the beginning that the bomb plot failed has raised questions about whether the film can be truly exciting. The producers say it is more a thriller than a war movie.

"The first half of the movie explains to you who these people were and what they would have to go through to successfully assassinate Adolf Hitler.

"The second half of the movie we wanted to be the day of the event itself," explains writer Christopher McQuarrie in the video.

The casting of Cruise, a practicing Scientologist, in the role of the anti-Nazi hero caused controversy last year in Germany, where the Scientology creed is viewed by some people as anti-democratic.

Stauffenberg and his fellow plotters are among the very few members of Germany's wartime armed services given hero status today.

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