Click to Skip Ad
Closing in...
The Gift That Keeps on Giving - Leaked Sony Email Challenges Denzel Washington's Overseas Box Office Appeal The Gift That Keeps on Giving - Leaked Sony Email Challenges Denzel Washington's Overseas Box Office Appeal Backlash Against New VH1 Series 'Sorority Sisters' Backlash Against New VH1 Series 'Sorority Sisters' Tessa Thompson Books Female Lead Role in Ryan Coogler's 'Creed' Opposite Michael B. Jordan Tessa Thompson Books Female Lead Role in Ryan Coogler's 'Creed' Opposite Michael B. Jordan Samuel L. Jackson Has His Own Challenge for Other Celebrites in Reaction to "Racist Police" (Watch) Samuel L. Jackson Has His Own Challenge for Other Celebrites in Reaction to "Racist Police" (Watch) Why Aren’t We Talking About the Sexual Assault in 'Beyond the Lights'? Why Aren’t We Talking About the Sexual Assault in 'Beyond the Lights'? Page to Screen Possibilities for Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's 'Americanah' (Lupita Nyong'o, David Oyelowo Starring) Page to Screen Possibilities for Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's 'Americanah' (Lupita Nyong'o, David Oyelowo Starring) David Oyelowo Joins Lupita Nyong’o in 'Americanah' Film Adaptation David Oyelowo Joins Lupita Nyong’o in 'Americanah' Film Adaptation Leaked Sony Emails Reveal Interest in Destiny's Child Biopic + Immersive Kanye West Feature Film Experience Leaked Sony Emails Reveal Interest in Destiny's Child Biopic + Immersive Kanye West Feature Film Experience Weekend B.O. Dec. 12-14 (So How’s That Boycott Working for Ya?) Weekend B.O. Dec. 12-14 (So How’s That Boycott Working for Ya?) What Sony Pictures Chief Amy Pascal Should Do if She Sincerely Wants to Make Amends What Sony Pictures Chief Amy Pascal Should Do if She Sincerely Wants to Make Amends Ava DuVernay Earns Her Way Into the History Books - First Black Woman Director to Be Nominated for a Golden Globe Award Ava DuVernay Earns Her Way Into the History Books - First Black Woman Director to Be Nominated for a Golden Globe Award Woody Allen Says He Won’t Hire a Black Actor Unless the Role Calls for One... Whatever That Means Woody Allen Says He Won’t Hire a Black Actor Unless the Role Calls for One... Whatever That Means Will You Join The Boycott 'Exodus' Movement? (Or You Don't Care) Will You Join The Boycott 'Exodus' Movement? (Or You Don't Care) My MoviePass Experience - What Works & What Could Be Improved (The Movie Theater Subscription Service) My MoviePass Experience - What Works & What Could Be Improved (The Movie Theater Subscription Service) Co-Screenwriter of 'Noah' Explains Why There Are No Black People Or POC In The Film Co-Screenwriter of 'Noah' Explains Why There Are No Black People Or POC In The Film Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' Aaron McGruder Finally Explains Why He Left 'The Boondocks' Lifetime Launches New Series Set In Elite World Of Hip-Hop Majorette Competitions (Watch Preview) Lifetime Launches New Series Set In Elite World Of Hip-Hop Majorette Competitions (Watch Preview) Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Netflix Explains Why It Doesn't Always Have That Film Or TV Show You Really Want To See (Video) Will Smith Explains Why Willow Smith Dropped Out Of 'Annie' Remake Will Smith Explains Why Willow Smith Dropped Out Of 'Annie' Remake Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie... Tichina Arnold Says She Talked To Martin Lawrence About Doing A 'Martin' Movie...

'Fela Kuti' Project No Longer Set Up At Focus; Previous Director Steve McQueen Says It's Dead

Photo of Tambay A. Obenson By Tambay A. Obenson | Shadow and Act January 9, 2014 at 3:04PM

'Fela Kuti' Project No Longer Set Up At Focus; Previous Director Steve McQueen Says It's Dead
0
Fela

It was in October 2013 when Focus Features founder and CEO James Schamus left the company - news that was announced by parent Universal. Schamus has been replaced by FilmDistrict founder and CEO Peter Schlessel in a move that will see Focus Features broaden its portfolio beyond the production and distribution of so-called "specialty product," as well as increase the number of films the division releases.

Interpret Universal's written motivations however you wish, but it read to me like the studio is no longer interested in its subsidiary being a strictly art house/foreign films label, with at least one goal being to produce and distribute more commercial, mainstream fare.

One of the questions that remains unanswered is what happens to Focus Features' long-in-development Fela Kuti biopic that Steve McQueen was once attached to direct, with Chiwetel Ejiofor starring, and which Andrew Dosunmu is now attached to direct.

A new report by The Hollywood Reporter today says that the project is no longer set up at Focus Features (which I suppose shouldn't be a surprise, given the recent changes), and, according to McQueen, who was previously attached to direct it, "The movie is dead," he told THR, adding that "They didn't have the money. It's just one of those things that happens in this business.

Of course, since McQueen is no longer directing the film, and Dosunmu is now attached, would he know exactly what the status of the project is currently? I did ask Andrew a couple of months ago, some time after the changes at Focus Features, whether the project was still alive, and he said, as far as he knew, it was still in motion. 

And the THR piece does add, at the end of the report, that a source tells them that James Schamus is working on a script revision, and the project is not dead. 

One thing that's for sure is that the film is no longer set up at Focus Features, and we can speculate that Schamus will likely independently work to get the project financed and off the ground finally, which could be a lengthy process, especially for a project of this nature, which, as we previously reported, is not a biopic, and will be more experimental in form, with long movements based on Fela’s lengthy songs. Schamus called it something of a "passion project" for him.

And finally, based on the THR report, it appears that Chiwetel Ejiofor is no longer attached to star, which opens the door for other actors to potentially step into the role - if it ever gets the backing it needs.

By the way, screening in the out-of-competition Documentary Premieres section of the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, is Finding Fela from director Alex Gibney, which tells the story of Fela's life, music, and political relevance.

This article is related to: Things That Make You Go Hmm..., Steve McQueen, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Andrew Dosunmu


Shadow & ActNewsletter