As far as we know, there are at least 5 film projects in the works based on either the life of MLK, or some significant period during his 39 years on this planet.
The only one that has seemed like a sure-thing is the Oprah Winfrey/HBO/Steven Spielberg/DreamWorks project that has the backing of King’s estate. It’s the only one with the Estate’s approval that we’re aware of.
However, it looks like one of the other 4 might be back in motion after a lengthy stay in Limbo. Last we wrote about the Paul Greengrass-directed MLK assassination pic, Memphis, which was once a sure-thing, the studio backing it, Universal Pictures, had backed out of financing and distributing the film.
Why? Word on the street was that there was pressure from the MLK estate (and Andrew Young’s objections) to call off the project, because they were unhappy with the script.
The film, which was supposed to focus on the events leading up to King’s assassination in Memphis, Tennessee, while he was trying to organize the city’s sanitation workers in spring of 1968; but it would have also highlighted his infidelity, which there was strong opposition to. It will also focus on the manhunt for James Earl Ray.
Tonight, Deadline is reporting that the project looks to be alive again, with French distribution company Wild Bunch getting behind the project, and super producer Scott Rudin producing, after almost a year in hiatus, and it just might be up next for Greengrass.
Deadline also says that they’ve read the script, and called “Oscar caliber stuff.“
But chances are, if the script they were going to go with before is the same that they’ll go with this time around, it looks like it’ll be one of those biopics that is made without the approval of those protecting the image of the subject.
Meanwhile, Lee Daniels’ Selma, which was announced before Greengrass’ project, and was once thought to be his next film right after Precious, will likely never see the light of day,