×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Joe Louis Movie Biopic in Development (EXCLUSIVE)

Producers Bill Duke, Gil Adler and Joel Eisenberg are developing a biopic on boxer Joe Louis with Duke directing, Variety has learned exclusively.

The trio has signed a deal with rights holders Fran Kirmser and Tony Ponturo of Kirmser Ponturo Group. The untitled project will focus on Louis’ historic two fights with German boxer Max Schmeling.

Joe Louis Barrow II, the son of the fighter, signed his father’s life rights to Kirmser Ponturo Group in 2013 and will also produce.

Originally intended as a stage play, Eisenberg approached Kirmser and inquired as to the project’s present status, then pitched the idea of a film and brought in Duke and Adler as his partners, and the deal was made.

Joe Louis became a symbolic figure in boxing during early global tensions leading to World War II, becoming among the first U.S. black cultural heroes. Schmeling was exploited as Hitler’s German superman but had no love for the Nazi regime.

Their two fights took place in Yankee Stadium. Schmeling handed Louis his first loss in their first fight in 1936; Louis knocked out Schmeling in the first round of their rematch in 1938.

“This project has been a passion project of mine for 25 years,” said Eisenberg. “It remains to me the greatest true-life story never filmed to its potential.”

Kirmser Ponturo Group is presently developing a biopic of Vince Lombardi with Legendary Pictures. Eisenberg recently closed a deal for “The Chronicles of Ara,” his 8-novel fantasy project co-written with Steve Hillard, with Ovation TV as a proposed 8-hour miniseries.

Adler’s credits as a producer include “Valkyrie” and “Superman Returns.” Duke directed the 2011 documentary “Dark Girls,” as well as “Sister Act 2” and “The Cemetery Club.”

More Film

  • Donald Glover'Atlanta' TV show premiere, Arrivals,

    Childish Gambino Surprises Beverly Hills Crowd With Reimagined 'Redbone'

    Donald Glover made an unexpected appearance at Film Independent’s “An Evening With…” series tonight (Jan. 15), held at the Wallis Annenberg Center for Performing Arts in Beverly Hills and presented by the HFPA. Joining “Black Panther” composer and Childish Gambino collaborator Ludwig Göransson, who was the subject of a Q&A conducted by “The Treatment” host Elvis [...]

  • 76th ANNUAL GOLDEN GLOBE AWARDS --

    Film News Roundup: Glenn Close Selected for Oscar Wilde Award

    In today’s film news roundup, Glenn Close gets an honor, AFI names its Directing Workshop for Women participants and Teri Polo gets cast in a Christmas drama. CLOSE HONOR Glenn Close will be honored on Feb. 21 by the US-Ireland Alliance at the 14th Annual Oscar Wilde Awards, held at J.J. Abrams’ Bad Robot in [...]

  • Jason Reitman Ghostbusters

    Jason Reitman to Direct Secret 'Ghostbusters' Movie

    Sony Pictures is getting the wheels in motion for the next installment in the “Ghostbusters” franchise, and it knows who it’s going to call to direct: Jason Reitman. Sources tell Variety that Reitman, whose father, Ivan, directed the first two “Ghostbusters” movies, will direct the latest pic in the famous franchise. Reitman has also co-written a [...]

  • L.A. Teachers' Strike: Hollywood Studios, Unions

    Hollywood Studios, Unions Support Parents and Educators as L.A. Teachers' Strike Rages

    Hollywood unions and entertainment companies have stepped up to support the 31,000 Los Angeles teachers in the second day of a massive strike that’s affected nearly half a million students. More than 50 SAG-AFTRA members picketed at a Tuesday afternoon rally in the driving rain next to the Hollywood & Highland Center with secretary-treasurer Jane [...]

  • SAMUEL L. JACKSON in Glass. M.

    ‘Glass’ Again Tops Studios’ TV Ad Spending

    In this week’s edition of the Variety Movie Commercial Tracker, powered by the TV advertising attention analytics company iSpot.tv, Universal Pictures claims the top spot in spending for the second week in a row with “Glass.” Ads placed for the superhero thriller had an estimated media value of $9.89 million through Sunday for 1,183 national [...]

  • Danny Glover

    Danny Glover Joins 'Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle' Sequel

    Danny Glover has joined the cast of Sony’s “Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle” sequel. His role is being kept under wraps, as is the storyline. Glover will star opposite Dwayne Johnson, Jack Black, Kevin Hart, and Karen Gillan, all of whom are set to return. Awkwafina is in final negotiations for a significant part in [...]

  • DJ Khaled Bad Boys

    DJ Khaled Joins 'Bad Boys' Sequel (EXCLUSIVE)

    DJ Khaled has rounded out the cast of Sony’s upcoming “Bad Boys” sequel “Bad Boys for Life,” joining returning stars Will Smith and Martin Lawrence. Khaled will also join series newcomers Vanessa Hudgens, Alexander Ludwig, Charles Melton, Jacob Scipio, and Paola Nuñez. Joe Pantoliano is on board to return as Captain Howard. Production is currently [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content