Still riding high on the critical and commercial success of The Butler (officially Lee Daniels’ The Butler, in case you, for some reason, equate that title with a now-lost 1916 silent short film with the same name, as Warner Bros. bizarrely seems to think you would), Lee Daniels has locked down his next directorial gig. The Precious helmer will tackle The Brian Banks Story, which was previously the subject of a 2012 60 Minutes piece.
The film tells the tragic story of Brian Banks, a high school football player who was on the verge of playing for USC when his life was turned inside out by a false accusation of rape from a classmate. Banks maintained his innocence but was sent to prison as part of a hastily-made plea bargain which resulted in him serving over five years and two months in prison, five years on parole and registering as a sex offender. In 2012, his conviction was finally overturned, allowing Banks to return to the game he loved, playing UFL football and going through six NFL tryouts before eventually making the Atlanta Falcons’ 75-man roster in April 2013.
Since making the Falcons and playing in four preseason games for that team, Banks has become a motivational speaker working with the California Innocence Project, the same organization that helped him to overturn his rape conviction. Addressing Daniels’ involvement in the film, Banks said:
“All I ever wanted was to prove my innocence. Telling my story in the form of a feature film is beyond my wildest dreams. Having Lee Daniels come on board to direct the film is so exciting, and such an honor.”
Producer Amy Baer, who yesterday announced that Daniels would be directing The Brian Banks Story, added:
“Lee is a filmmaker who looks at challenging circumstances with honesty, compassion, and hope. He has an emotional connection to Brian’s story that I’m certain will result in a powerful and redemptive film. I’m thrilled to be partnered with him.”
It’s unclear whether The Brian Banks Story will be Daniels’ priority or whether the director will next take on the Richard Pryor biopic he had been set to direct. The former project is currently out to writers, but little has been heard about the latter for a long while.
We’ll keep you posted when we hear more.