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Focus Features Nearing Deal to Acquire Jesse Owens Biopic

Focus Features is in negotiations for U.S. distribution rights to the Jesse Owens biopic “Race.”

The film will be directed by Stephen Hopkins from a script by Joe Shrapnel and Anna Waterhouse.

Race” will focus on how Owens, the son of an Alabama sharecropper, shattered Adolf Hitler’s myth of Aryan supremacy at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by winning a record four gold medals in the 100-meter dash, the 200-meter dash, the long jump and the 400-meter relay. Owens’ victories are considered among the greatest athletic feats of all time.

Hitler had insisted that Jews and blacks not be allowed to participate in the Games but relented when threatened with a boycott. He shook hands only with the German victors on the first day of competition and then skipped all further medal presentations.

Jean-Charles Levy, Luc Dayan, Kate Garwood, Stephen Hopkins, Louis-Philippe Rochon, Dominique Séguin, Karsten Brünig and Thierry Potok will produce. Al Munteanu from SquareOne Entertainment is exec producing.

The movie still needs to find its star, which may hold up the deal if an actor is not found to play Owens. John Boyega was attached but fell out due to his commitment to “Star Wars.”

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