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A Martin Luther King Movie Is Coming, But It's Not The One You Were Hoping For

Photo of Kevin Jagernauth By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist April 29, 2011 at 8:37AM

Well, the good news is civil rights leader Martin Luther King is going to get his due on the screen, but the bad news is that it won't be the mooted Paul Greengrass film "Memphis." As you might recall, funding on that film was yanked by Universal after the Martin Luther King estate raised concerns about some of the less-than-savory aspects of the MLK's personality that made their way into the script. But another film is moving full steam ahead.
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Well, the good news is civil rights leader Martin Luther King is going to get his due on the screen, but the bad news is that it won't be the mooted Paul Greengrass film "Memphis." As you might recall, funding on that film was yanked by Universal after the Martin Luther King estate raised concerns about some of the less-than-savory aspects of the MLK's personality that made their way into the script. But another film is moving full steam ahead.

THR reports that in a rare gesture of cooperation between two studios with competing projects, DreamWorks and Warner Bros. are teaming up on a biopic of the legendary leader. Both studios had competing projects in the works, however, and crucially, only the former had the all-important approval of the estate, access to works and more importantly, the rights to his "I Have A Dream" speech. So instead of burning twice as much fuel, the two are going to combine powers.

The film will have a script from Kario Salem ("The Score," Curtis Hanson's upcoming surf movie "Mavericks") who has been working on the Warner Bros. project for years, amassing extensive research and interviews. Salem will now write a fresh script and we presume it will have to pass muster with the estate before moving forward.

As for "Memphis" and Lee Daniels' "Selma"? Both of those projects weren't met with approval from the MLK estate and we presume they're idle for now. Their backing is important to these films getting made as most studios are going to be cagey about taking on a figure like MLK if they're going to come under fire for it by not having the blessing of his family. Either way, it's still a long way off for the DreamWorks/Warner Bros. project and anything can happen.

This article is related to: Film Studios, Warner Bros, Dreamworks


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