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DreamWorks Moving Ahead of the Pack on MLK Biopic

DreamWorks Moving Ahead of the Pack on MLK Biopic

The Score writer Kario Salem is in negotiations to write DreamWorks’ upcoming biopic on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Warner Bros., which has quietly had its own MLK project in development with Salem for the past several years, will team up with DreamWorks to co-finance and distribute the film. Salem is said to have already put three-and-a-half years worth of research and interviews into a screenplay for Warner Bros, and he is set to write a new screenplay with the support of King’s estate.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, DreamWorks acquired the life rights of the civil rights leader in May 2009, with Sam Nappi, Suzanne de Passe and Madison Jones on board as producers. Not only did it secure the cooperation of the King estate, but the studio also has access to King’s intellectual property, including his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.

Aside from DreamWorks, directors Lee Daniels and Paul Greengrass have each been seeking financing for MLK projects of their own, focusing on the 1960s Selma marches and Dr. King’s final days, respectively. But the approval of King’s estate is cited as a major hurdle for competing projects examining Dr. King’s life. DreamWorks’ relationship with the estate, coupled with Warners’ years of research, seem to be the combination needed to forge their project out ahead of the rest.

The DreamWorks/Warners biopic is untitled as yet, with Dexter King, Bernice King and Martin Luther King II executive producing.

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@Neziah-True dat. Small victories every day add up to a won war :-D


I agree, Jug, but at least it’s getting made.


I know I caught some “flak” for saying this on the old site, but this is NOT the MLK story I’m waiting. Specifically because it’s Spielberg. I think it’ll be a well done movie, really good in fact. But for me, not “interesting” and thought provoking. The SELMA script was excellent and the Greengrass project, well, is Greengrass so it looked to be above par. But Spielberg, and add on that the actual MLK estate & Suzanne DePasse, that’s a trifecta of slick, clean, redacted storytelling if I’ve ever seen it. Maybe I’m not giving them full credit, but with that group in place, I just can’t help feeling what am I going to see that I haven’t seen on History channel, or by Paul Winfield in the KING miniseries? What would be compelling & deeper about it? The way this thing has been handled, it’s like they’re worse than Berry Gordy-lock that brand DOWN! LOL

And honestly, I don’t blame them, I probably would do the same thing with such an iconic figure, let alone my dad. But for my money, I wanna see something that not only humanizes the god-like figure, but gives me a perspective on his tumultuous Life & fight for civil rights other than “he braved dogs, firehoses & the klan”. And no, I’m not making light of any of that, I’m actually being very serious. In BOYCOTT, the scene where MLK is in jail & he is battling himself about whether to take his own life was wonderful (same scene in THE HURRICANE, equally as excellent). Stuff like that is telling a known story not only in a new way, but daring to explore the dark side of the man himself.

We shall see…

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