MGM closes Eminem pic ‘Southpaw’

Sony Pictures to distribute the gritty boxing drama

When DreamWorks put the Eminem-led boxing pic “Southpaw” into turnaround in August, many industry insiders wondered whether another studio would be willing to get in the ring with director Antoine Fuqua, screenwriter Kurt Sutter and its controversial star.

But Paul Rosenberg and Stuart Parr at Eminem’s Shady Films banner and the father-and-son producing team of Alan and Peter Riche fought hard on its behalf, and their collective efforts have finally paid off, as MGM has closed a deal to make the gritty drama, which will be distributed by Sony Pictures.

MGM had no comment on the deal, though insiders close to the process say the company leapfrogged fellow suitors Alcon Entertainment and Summit Entertainment after being viewed as the underdog as recently as last week.

Story finds Eminem playing a welterweight boxer who fights his way to the title only to see his world collapse after tragedy strikes. The film will follow boxer as he fights to reclaim his past glory and win back the affection of his young daughter.

The title refers to the fact that the character is a lefty (a dangerous thing in a boxing ring) and the project will be fueled by the hardships that inform Eminem’s music and mirror his life.

Eminem hasn’t appeared on the bigscreen since his breakthrough perf in Curtis Hanson’s 2002 rap drama “8 Mile.” He has turned down numerous movie offers in the years since, allowing “Southpaw” to serve as the follow-up to his acting debut.

Eminem is repped by ICM and manager David Schiff, who will exec produce the pic, which is expected to start production sometime next year.