NEW YORK – The hotly anticipated A.I., which opens June 29, has been kept under the tightest veil of secrecy of any movie since Stanley Kubrick's famously hush-hush final film, Eyes Wide Shut.
But The Post gleaned a few teasing hints from executive producer Jan Harlan about the futuristic fantasy created by the late Kubrick and directed by Steven Spielberg. "It's a really moving story about a future society where you just can't have children without getting a license from the government," said Harlan.
"Technology has advanced to the point where most normal work is performed by robots. And in this situation, we are confronted by the idea of programming a child robot so he is able to love."
Kubrick — Harlan's late brother-in-law spent two decades developing the movie, which was taken over by Spielberg after Kubrick died in 1999.
Harlan, a 64-year-old German native whose sister Christiane married Kubrick, is reluctant to say much more about this "huge, futuristic fairy tale," which he also called "a very romantic story about mother-and-son love."
"No, I'm not giving away much more," said Harlan, who was in town yesterday to promote Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures, a documentary he's directed.
To keep the details secret, cast and crew were required to sign contracts barring them from discussing the plot, their characters and the movie's extensive special effects.
But Harlan did acknowledge that Haley Joel Osment plays the 11-year-old robot whose artificial intelligence includes a capacity to love who's adopted by a family of humans devastated by the loss of their own child.
Harlan just smiles when asked about reports that Osment's character teams up with an android (played by Jude Law) for a Pinocchio-like quest to achieve humanhood — a quest that takes them to futuristic underwater cities, including a submerged New York City.
"You'll see!" he laughs.
"But I will say it has a very surprising ending, and Steven did it very well.
"I think both Steven and Stanley's fans will be very, very pleased. I know I feel it's very close to Stanley's concept but Steven really put his own stamp on it."
As for his refusal to spill the beans on details, the producer said it honors his late brother-in-law's wishes.
Explained Harlan: "Stanley firmly believed in not spoiling the audience's enjoyment and letting his movies speak for themselves."