It looks like we will finally get to see Martin Luther King’s life being portrayed on screen, but it sadly will not be Paul Greengrass‘ Memphis and neither will it be Lee Daniels‘ Selma. Rather it will be an entirely new creation that Warner Bros and DreamWorks will co-operate on with a script written by Kario Salem, who previously wrote The Score. He has spent 3 years researching for the film including interviews with members of the family and people involved in the civil rights movement.
Under the eye of Steven Spielberg, DreamWorks acquired the rights to Martin Luther King’s story and all his intellectual property for a film, along with full co-operation from the King estate. Something which both the Greengrass and Daniels projects lacked, which is why in the end they got into troubled and were bailed on by the studios. Warners on the other hand had Salem at work on the script, so now the two companies are coming together to bring the film to the screen.
Without wanting to get controversial, films that are about real life people, with fairly ambiguous lives that are met with approval from the family are never interesting at all. Think recently with Martin Scorsese‘s Sinatra biopic, the script which touched upon Sinatra’s dealings with the mafia was not met with approval by his family. Now while it’s a given that Sinatra was heavily involved with that, it would be an unfaithful biopic if it weren’t in there. And a lot more dull to.
If reports are correct, there were some parts of the Daniels and Greengrass scripts which did upset the Martin Luther King estate, obviously considering the two are both provocative filmmakers. I would still rather see what they do with his story than a studio picture that the family have approved and is therefore going to be a film which treats him like a saint. Even though he probably was, no one is perfect.
If a good director becomes attached it might work, personally I’d like to see what Spike Lee or Oliver Stone would do. But again, probably too provocative for a major studio collaborative project. (The Hollywood Reporter)