It appears that the Martin Luther King, Jr. drama Memphis isn’t dead after all. Director Paul Greengrass (United 93, The Bourne Supremacy) wrote the script, which takes place during the final days of Dr. King’s life, and previously set the film up as a directorial project early last year alongside producer Scott Rudin (The Social Network, No Country for Old Men), but Universal Pictures abruptly backed out of the pic, forcing Greengrass and Rudin to shelve the project due to a lack of financing. Now it appears that the film is coming back around with a new backer, with Greengrass hoping to make it his next project. Hit the jump for more about the film.
The story of Memphis takes place during the final days of Dr. King’s life and centers on his struggle to organize a protest on behalf of striking black municipal sanitation workers in the titular Tennessee city. The main storyline is juxtaposed with the manhunt for King’s assassin, James Earl Ray, “involving some of the federal authorities who, at Hoover’s direction, had dogged King’s every step with wiretaps and whispering campaigns before the civil rights leader’s death.” The script apparently doesn’t skirt some of King’s more imperfect qualities (ie. infedility), but Deadline notes that the story is “a powerful testament to King’s struggle and sacrifice” that also depicts him as a human being.
Per Deadline, Veritas is in talks to finance the film with Wild Bunch and steps are being taken to make this Greengrass’ next project. It’s an interesting way to approach the life of King, and in the hands of Greengrass and Rudin I imagine the final result would be something truly special. Hopefully things finally come together this time and we can see Memphis in theaters sooner rather than later. Greengrass most recently completed Captain Philips, the drama about the Somali pirate heist that stars Tom Hanks. That film hits theaters on October 11, 2013.