Next Week Would Have Marked Martin Luther King Jr's 83rd Birthday.... Paul Greengrass Pitches Film Of His Final Days

Despite reports that Paul Greengrass was closing in on Sony's epic historical drama Cleopatra as his next film, Vulture are instead saying the politically minded Brit helmer is hoping to direct Memphis, a self-penned screenplay based on the final days of civil rights activist Martin Luther King Jr., next. Memphis would focus on the contentious few days at end of March/early April '68 as Luther King fights for the Memphis city's sanitation workers rights, his fiery relationship with President Johnson over their disagreement on Vietnam, his views on the Black Power Movement and the Working Class and will also delve into his personal life as his chain-smoking habit worsened, his marriage was failing and he was losing himself to unhealthy amounts of booze & food. Although no deals have been signed, the film could soon end-up at Focus Features and producer Scott Rudin and possibly even film this year. Greengrass has smartly timed this week to leak word of his own passionately researched film as next week would have marked Luther King's 83 year old birth day, so there'll be that extra pinch of publicity in the national press that might sway studio opinion for the greenlight on a risky, noncommercial project. Especially as Greengrass' last politically minded passion film Green Zone was a $100 million budgeted disaster last year (only took $35 million domestically) and after the fall-out at Universal (over Green Zone & Bourne 4), he won't be getting a deal there. Interestingly, Rudin is also acting as producer on Cleopatra, so I just wonder if Greengrass has managed to work his magic to promote a film he really wanted to make during those Cleopatra meetings... Let's hope this one is a go-er. Greengrass is a rare cinematic breed, an auteur who clearly is passionate enough to create the films he wants to make from the ground-up and will self-pitch to studio's to make them happen. So ok, it didn't quite work with the Jimi Hendrix biopic he wanted to make (though that was down to a family estate issue rather than a studio block) but this one will all be about convicning Focus to give him the green light. There of course have been countless conspiracies sounded out about James Earl Ray's assassination of Martin Luther King (everyone from CIA, FBI, to, of course, The Mafia) but this one sounds more like it'll focus on the man himself over those final days rather than that. We imagine the assassination will be at the very end. But man, who on Earth would Greengrass find for Martin Luther? What a role for somebody... (he wanted Anthony Mackie for Hendrix, could he do this also?) - it has Oscar written all over it.
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Matt Holmes is the co-founder of What Culture, formerly known as Obsessed With Film. He has been blogging about pop culture and entertainment since 2006 and has written over 10,000 articles.