Paul Greengrass' Martin Luther King Film 'Memphis' Coming Back To Life

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by Rodrigo Perez
November 16, 2012 7:10 PM
11 Comments
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Breaking: After getting shelved by Universal Pictures in April of last year, director Paul Greengrass’ would-be project about the final days of Martin Luther King Jr., "Memphis,” is back on again with producer Scott Rudin in tow. After Universal backed out last year, after reportedly getting cold feet about the MLK estate's issues with the allegations of infidelity in the screenplay, the project had no funding and Greengrass turned his attention to "Captain Phillips," his Somali pirates picture starring Tom Hanks set up over at Sony. Without funding, they essentially abandoned it.

But Deadline reports that Greengrass and Rudin intend to make it their next picture and says that Wild Bunch -- the international sales group that helped finance and distribute Steven Soderbergh’s “Che,” Michael Moore’s "Fahrenheit 9/11" and highly anticipated upcoming projects like James Gray’s “The Nightingale” and Nicolas Winding Refn’s “Only God Forgives"-- are on board to foot the bill.

Written by Greengrass, the historical drama centers on the final days of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the springtime of 1968, when he was trying to help the city’s sanitation workers find common ground. This was an extremely tumultuous time for King: he was facing heat from the President over his opposition to the Vietnam War while fighting marginalization due to his insistence on focusing his efforts on the poor working class. Memphis was also the place he would give his famous "I've Been to the Mountaintop" speech just a day before he would be assassinated. Deadline adds that the story is also juxtaposed by an intense manhunt for King’s assassin by the same federal agents that followed King's every step with wiretaps at the behest of J. Edgar Hoover. It would be interesting to see just how big or small a part MLK will play considering it sounds like he's killed off in the first act.

The material sounds Oscar-caliber to say the least. And in any year of release it would be -- in this form at least, with Greengrass at the helm -- a fiercely anticipated picture. Fingers cross that everything works out.

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More: Paul Greengrass, Memphis, Wild Bunch

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11 Comments

  • Helgi | November 18, 2012 6:12 AMReply

    How can this be Oscar worthy with Greengrass at the helm? His style is atrocious, fine for those with a short memory-span, and remember: his sea-sickness-approach does not apply to all material.

  • MJ | November 18, 2012 2:48 PM

    You're right, the Oscars don't go to verite, respectful works like his. United 93 is the greatest directorial/editing achievement of the decade, at least.

  • MJ | November 17, 2012 10:17 AMReply

    Let's hope it isn't Oscar caliber, meaning it actually treats life with all its many shades, which it should given Paul Greengrass' involvement & the screenplay making the estate uncomfortable for portraying MLK as a human with issues like the rest of us.

  • fui | November 17, 2012 9:42 AMReply

    Thank god this project came back!

  • Amanda | November 17, 2012 9:16 AMReply

    Oscar season 2013?

  • James | November 17, 2012 1:32 AMReply

    MLK is not killed off in the first act. As the Deadline article says, the film intercuts King's final days with the resulting hunt for his assassin. This structural choice by Greengrass brilliantly adds tension and suspense to the narrative. King is the lead in the piece, there the whole time.

  • Fila | November 16, 2012 9:55 PMReply

    This will be epic and controversial.

  • glass | November 16, 2012 9:23 PMReply

    FUCK. YES. I hope it happens.

  • Jarrett | November 16, 2012 9:06 PMReply

    If hollywood are going to talk about MLK infidelity, they should have told the truth about Abe Lincoln's racism.

  • Roger | November 16, 2012 8:01 PMReply

    Nate Parker for MLK

  • Eddie | November 16, 2012 9:01 PM

    I like Nate Parker, but I'm thinking David Oyelowo for this role.

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