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We've been hearing about Southpaw for a few months now. A boxing drama starring Eminem, in his first starring role since Curtis Hanson's 8 Mile, the project signed Antoine Fuqua to direct back in June after the filmmaker dropped his Tupac Shakur biopic. It seemed like everything was calm seas and smooth sailing for the movie, but apparently it's just been hit by a tidal wave.
Deadline has learned that Dreamworks has decided to drop the project from its upcoming slate. While the studio won't be making the picture, they have given the project to the filmmakers so that they may try and start it up at a different studio. The script was written by Kurt Sutter, the creator of Sons of Anarchy, and the plan was to begin production at the start of next year. There was no official reason given for why Dreamworks decided they didn't want the project, but the website speculates that it could be because they are afraid of filling the market with too many fighting movies (citing The Fighter and the upcoming Warrior) or because they are feeling a bit more "cautious" after Cowboys & Aliens underperformed.
The story follows an up-and-coming boxer (Eminem) who becomes a welterweight champion but is then befallen by tragedy. He then tries to pick himself back up and become a winner again, both for himself and for his daughter. If this sounds a bit like a boxing version of his character from 8 Mile you're not exactly wrong. Said Sutter about the film, "In a way, this is a continuation of the 8 Mile story, but rather than a literal biography, we are doing a metaphorical narrative of the second chapter of his life." Sutter says he sees the film mirroring the last five years of the rappers career and says that even the title, which points to the fact that Eminem is a lefty, is a metaphor for the star being a white rapper. "I love that the title refers to [Eminem] being a lefty, which is to boxing what a white rapper is to hip hop; dangerous, unwanted and completely unorthodox," said Sutter. "It's a much harder road for a southpaw than a right-handed boxer."
Given how the last few years have been filled with vampire movies and we are about to see about 20,000 "dark" versions of fairy tales, I highly doubt that the reason behind the studio's decision to drop the project was too many fighting movies. The Fighter made more than five times its budget at the international box office. That's not a reason to stop making boxing movies, that's a reason to make more. Don't be surprised when another studio jumps at the chance to make this film.