February 27, 2014
LAWT Wire Services
Paramount is in final talks to acquire domestic distribution rights to “Selma,” the long in-the-works feature drama about Martin Luther King‘s 1965 landmark voting rights campaign regarded as the peak of the civil rights movement, and Oprah Winfrey has boarded the project as producer.
Ava DuVernay, who came aboard the project in July, rewrote the original script by Paul Webb and slipped it to Winfrey, who sparked to DuVernay’s rewrite, according to Deadline.com.
This marks the second MLK project that Winfrey is overseeing. Her Harpo production company is also behind a seven-part HBO miniseries “America: In the King Years.”
According to Deadline, the plan is to get “Selma” in front of cameras as soon as possible. Lining up a domestic deal and a name of Winfrey’s caliber were key to getting the ball rolling, and when the deal goes through, production is expected to start right away. Pathe UK, Brad Pitt’s Plan B and Christian Colson are already aboard as producers.
Winfrey’s presence both on and off the screen was a big reason “Lee Daniels’ The Butler” did so well overseas, according to Deadline. The film has grossed $167.7 million to date — more than $50 million of that internationally. This gives “Selma” a leg up on the other two major MLK features that are percolating. Oliver Stone last month saw a script rewrite on his King biopic rejected by DreamWorks and Warner Bros, and it caused him to back out of the project. Meanwhile, Paul Greengrass still isn’t ready to move on his biopic “Memphis” that he plans to make with Scott Rudin.