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Oliver Stone Exits Martin Luther King Biopic, Says Estate Wouldn't Approve His Warts And All Script

Photo of Kevin Jagernauth By Kevin Jagernauth | The Playlist January 17, 2014 at 4:48PM

The Martin Luther King Jr. movie seems to be the white whale of biopics. No less than three different attempts to bring the iconic civil rights leader to the big screen are currently underway, but one of them has just lost a director. Last fall, DreamWorks revealed they were putting together an MLK project and eyeing Oliver Stone to direct, with Jamie Foxx in the lead role, and none other than Steven Spielberg putting his weight behind the movie as a producer. But it seems that once again, the King estate has kiboshed a film that won't show the man in anything less than a perfect light.
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Oliver Stone Jamie Foxx Martin Luther King Jr.

The Martin Luther King Jr. movie seems to be the white whale of biopics. No less than three different attempts to bring the iconic civil rights leader to the big screen are currently underway, but one of them has just lost a director. Last fallDreamWorks revealed they were putting together an MLK project and eyeing Oliver Stone to direct, with Jamie Foxx in the lead role, and none other than Steven Spielberg putting his weight behind the movie as a producer. But it seems that once again, the King estate has kiboshed a film that won't show the man in anything less than a perfect light.

Stone hit Twitter today to announce he had left the project and provided details on his script, which would have shown both the herosim and flaws of MLK, and those around him. Here's what Stone had to say:

A bit of a bummer, but perhaps not a total surprise. Paul Greengrass' "Memphis" ran afoul of the estate back in 2011 for similar reasons when he was first trying to mount the movie, and their concerns wound up forcing Universal to kibosh the film (Greengrass does still intend to make the biopic, though he has recently said it will likely be after he does another movie first). And Lee Daniels' "Selma" (recently taken over by Ava DuVernay) also ran into the same sorts of problems a few years ago too.


So we'll see what the next move is for DreamWorks, but it would seem no one is going to make this movie without the tacit approval of the MLK estate, who have proven exacting in how they want the man portrayed. Thoughts? Do you think an MLK biopic can be made that's both true to the man, while satisfying the needs of his family? Let us know below.

This article is related to: Oliver Stone