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Director Oliver Stone is no stranger to the biopic genre, having previously made Born On The Fourth of July, The Doors, Nixon, and more, and now he's getting ready to bring yet another important 20th century figure to the silver screen. According to sources over at The Wrap, the Oscar winning filmmaker is now in negotiations with DreamWorks and Warner Bros. to direct a new film about Civil Rights champion Martin Luther King Jr. What's more, Jamie Foxx is already in talks to play the lead role.
This new project is being based on a script by Kario Salem (Chasing Mavericks), and the King family has "agreed to lend their support to the movie," but it's worth noting that this isn't the only MLK biopic in town. Director Paul Greengrass, who will be back in theaters this weekend with the new film Captain Phillips, has been working on a competing project titled Memphis since 2011, and back in May of this year there was talk of Forrest Whitaker playing King. Greengrass is planning to make the film in his personal docu-drama style and will largely focus on King's assassination in 1968, but it's been said that the story would show a darker side to the Nobel Peace Prize winner that we don't normally get to hear about. As a result, the project has been surrounded by some controversy because the King family won't support it. That certainly gives Dreamworks and WB a leg up, though they also have director Ava DuVernay's Selma (Lee Daniels' former project) to contend with. That movie The Butler's David Oyelowo set to star.
While this project may seem new, however, it has its own long history as well. The Wrap notes that Dreamworks got the rights to King's life story as well as the famous "I Have A Dream" speech in 2009, and then in 2011 they teamed with Warner Bros., which had already been working with Salem developing a script. The screenwriter reportedly spent three years doing research and interviews with craft the screenplay and make it as accurate as possible. Where things go from here, though, remain unclear. The site doesn't say when the studios are looking to start production, but if they are roping in a director and a star we can bet that they want to get the movie made fast.
As for the casting, Stone does have some experience working with Foxx, as the two previously collaborated on the 1999 football drama Any Given Sunday, in which the Academy Award winning actor played a third string quarterback named "Steamin" Willie Beamen who gets his moment to shine in the spotlight: