It’s been a long, messy road for the developing, and highly anticipated Bob Marley documentary “Marley” to see the light of day. Martin Scorsese was originally working on the documentary for the Weinstein Company way back in 2008, although he swiftly bowed out, and was then replaced by Jonathan Demme. The project then came to a standstill when Demme left the project after he and producer Steve Bing didn’t see eye to eye on the film during the first rounds of editing, although, Demme did tell us he was proud of the work he had done on the film.
“What happened hasn’t fully happened yet,” Demme told us in 2009. “The Marley documentary is on absolute hold. The portrait that I fashioned from all the archival footage of Bob Marley is one that I love very much, but [that love] is not shared by the financiers and the project is on complete hold at the moment and there’s a lot of discussion going on geared to try and find the most positive possible resolution to this situation.” Clearly, a resolution was not found and the planned release date of February 2010 — what would have been Bob Marley’s 65th birthday — has come and gone, but a replacement has hired on to bring the film to the finish line.
Deadline reports that Kevin Macdonald (“Last King Of Scotland” and most recently the YouTube doc “Life In A Day“) has now been brought aboard to sit in the director’s chair. No word yet if the co-production Tuff Gong Pictures and Shangri-La Entertainment (Bing’s production shingle) will still have distribution through The Weinstein Company, but we presume that’s still the case.
There’s no word just what Demme and Bing butted heads on, but considering that Chris Blackwell (Island Records, Marley’s longtime music label) and Marley’s family are heavily involved, we’d guess that they have very specific ideas about how the music icon is portrayed on film. Frankly, its still not really known if Demme was axed or left over creative differences and we’re sure both sides have their own stories to tell. Our guess is that Macdonald will fashion a new edit from the footage that’s already been captured and hopefully it will meet the approval of everyone involved.
Regardless, the project is now actually nearing completion after a couple years of work. The film is now being prepped for a fall release this year in conjunction with the 30th anniversary of Bob Marley’s death.