Brian Helgeland to Write and Direct Jackie Robinson Biopic

     June 1, 2011


In early April, we reported that Robert Redford was set to star in a biopic about Brooklyn Dodgers General Manager Branch Rickey from writer-director Brian Hegleland.  The film would center on Rickey’s decision to integrate Major League Baseball by hiring Jackie Robinson.  At the time, I voiced my disappointment that we would have to see Robinson’s story through Rickey’s perspective when—all due respect to Rickey’s legacy—it was Robinson’s story that was worth telling on its own.

Now it looks like I’ve gotten my way.  Legendary Pictures has sent out a press release annoucning that Helgeland will still write and direct, but it now looks like the movie is now about Robinson.  Nowhere in the press release is Rickey mentioned.  While Robinson’s story was previously filmed as The Jackie Robinson Story, and that movie actually starred Robinson as himself.  For the new biopic, Legendary will collaborate with Robinson’s widow, Rachel Robinson on the picture.  While I’m not the biggest fan of Helgeland (for every L.A. Confidential, there’s a Robin Hood, Cirque du Freak, and The Taking of Pelham 123 remake), I hope he’ll do justice to Robinson’s story.  Hit the jump for the press release.

Here’s the press release:


jackie-robinson-01Burbank, CA – June 1, 2011 – Legendary Pictures announced today that it will develop and produce a new film based on history’s most celebrated baseball figure, Jackie Robinson.  The movie will pay tribute to the legacy and impact Robinson made when he became the first African American Major League Baseball player.

Legendary will collaborate with Robinson’s widow, Rachel Robinson, to ensure the authenticity of the famed player’s story.  Brian Helgeland (LA CONFIDENTIAL / MYSTIC RIVER) will write and direct, with Legendary’s Chairman and CEO, Thomas Tull, producing, and Legendary’s Chief Creative Officer, Jon Jashni, serving as executive producer. Dick Cook, former Chairman of Walt Disney Studios, will also serve as an executive producer.  The project will fall under Legendary’s overall agreement with Warner Bros.

“We are deeply honored and grateful to be able to bring the Jackie Robinson story to audiences around the world,” said Tull.  “The legacy he left on history, society and the sport of baseball is one that will never be forgotten, and we are pleased to tell this amazing story of a true American hero.”

“My family and I are thrilled to have this important film on Jack produced by Legendary Pictures.  We are proud of his lasting impact on our society, and we know that the legacy he left is inspiring and worth preserving,” said Rachel Robinson.

“There are few opportunities that come along as a filmmaker that allow the opportunity to share a true story with your audience, let alone one as powerful and inspiring as that of Jackie Robinson’s,” stated Helgeland.  “I believe that with the support of Rachel Robinson we have a unique opportunity to bring one of the most famed stories in American culture and baseball to the screen.”

About Legendary Entertainment

Legendary Entertainment is a leading media company with film, television and comics divisions dedicated to owning, producing and delivering content to mainstream audiences with a targeted focus on the powerful fandom demographic.  Through complete or joint ownership, Legendary is building a library of marquee media properties and has established itself as a trusted brand which consistently delivers high-quality, commercial entertainment including some of the world’s most popular intellectual property.  Among the wholly-owned projects that Legendary Pictures is currently developing in-house are an adaptation of the phenomenally successful interactive game universe Warcraft, to be directed by Sam Raimi (Spiderman); Godzilla, based on Toho Company’s famed character; Pacific Rim directed by Guillermo del Toro; Warren Ellis’ Gravel; and Mass Effect, based on Electronic Arts and BioWare’s hit videogame franchise.  With partner Warner Bros., Legendary’s productions include the recent smash hit, The Hangover Part II, which holds the distinction of posting the highest opening weekend gross ever for a comedy film, the critically acclaimed Inception, which has been a box office smash grossing more than $823 million worldwide, as well as the global blockbusters Clash of the Titans ($493 million worldwide), The Dark Knight ($1 billion worldwide), 300 ($456 million worldwide) and The Hangover ($467 million worldwide).

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