The first time we wrote about a planned Jackie Robinson biopic, it was with the encouraging news that Robert Redford had agreed to take a supporting role in the film as Branch Rickey, the manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers who made the decision to hire Robinson and break the unspoken color line in Major League Baseball. Redford seemed like a big enough name to draw interest in the project and maybe help the producers find the right actor to play Robinson, obviously the most important and difficult to cast part in the film.

But today, in a press release from Legendary Pictures announcing the official existence of the project, there's no mention of Redford. I'm not sure if that's because his deal isn't yet official or because he's dropped out, but either way that doesn't seem to stop them from moving ahead with the film. Brian Helgeland, the screenwriter behind L.A. Confidential and Mystic River, is still set to write the screenplay and make his directorial debut with the film, which has the important collaboration of Robinson's widow Rachel. There's no specified timeline for the film to go into production, and they've obviously still got to cast an actor to play Robinson, but it looks like the intriguing project is moving ahead-- whether or not Redford is in fact going to be part of it. Here's the full press release below if you want to know more.

Burbank, CA – June 1, 2011 – Legendary Pictures announced today that it will develop and produce a new film based on history’s most celebrated baseball figure, Jackie Robinson. The movie will pay tribute to the legacy and impact Robinson made when he became the first African American Major League Baseball player.

Legendary will collaborate with Robinson’s widow, Rachel Robinson, to ensure the authenticity of the famed player’s story. Brian Helgeland (LA CONFIDENTIAL / MYSTIC RIVER) will write and direct, with Legendary’s Chairman and CEO, Thomas Tull, producing, and Legendary’s Chief Creative Officer, Jon Jashni, serving as executive producer. Dick Cook, former Chairman of Walt Disney Studios, will also serve as an executive producer. The project will fall under Legendary's overall agreement with Warner Bros.

“We are deeply honored and grateful to be able to bring the Jackie Robinson story to audiences around the world,” said Tull. “The legacy he left on history, society and the sport of baseball is one that will never be forgotten, and we are pleased to tell this amazing story of a true American hero.”

"My family and I are thrilled to have this important film on Jack produced by Legendary Pictures. We are proud of his lasting impact on our society, and we know that the legacy he left is inspiring and worth preserving," said Rachel Robinson.

“There are few opportunities that come along as a filmmaker that allow the opportunity to share a true story with your audience, let alone one as powerful and inspiring as that of Jackie Robinson’s,” stated Helgeland. “I believe that with the support of Rachel Robinson we have a unique opportunity to bring one of the most famed stories in American culture and baseball to the screen.”

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