While many dueling Martin Luther King Jr. projects are in various stages of development at the moment, it looks like DreamWorks and Warner Bros. have decided to combine their competing projects and co-finance a MLK film together. DreamWorks acquired the rights to Martin Luther King Jr.’s story back in 2009, securing the cooperation of the King estate as well as the rights to Dr. King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. Warner Bros., on the other hand, had scribe Kario Salem (The Score) on board. Salem spent three years researching and doing interviews for his screenplay.
After Universal abruptly pulled out of financing director Paul Greengrass’ controversial film Memphis (covering the days leading up to MLK’s assassination) following pressure from the King estate, THR reports that DreamWorks and Warner Bros. decided to combine the strengths of their respective projects and create a film together, with Salem in negotiations to write the screenplay. Hit the jump for more.
After seeing the trouble that plagued Greengrass’ project, as well as the difficulty Lee Daniels is having getting his own Martin Luther King Jr. film Selma made, DreamWorks and Warner Bros. realized that together they have the support of the King estate and three years worth of research.
Salem will now write a new script, with the King’s involvement. In fact, Martin Luther King II will act as an executive producer on the project. Now, it’s great that the King family has given their support to the project, but I think there’s something to be said about artistic freedom. With King II acting as an executive producer, and the estate keeping a watchful eye over the project, it appears there will be quite a few people the script has to be vetted through.
Personally, I’m much more intrigued by Greengrass’ project. The guy’s an incredible director, and I’m interested in seeing what the King estate was so unhappy with to push them to convince Universal to drop the project.