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.