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Joe Louis-Max Schmeling Movie Project Seeks Crowdfunding

The producers of a biopic on boxer Joe Louis have launched a crowdfunding campaign for the project.

Bill Duke, Gil Adler and Joel Eisenberg, who unveiled the project in November to Variety, started the $200,000 campaign on Wednesday on the Seed and Spark site.

“By crowdfunding the development of the property and further, possibly some pre-production financing, we hope to mitigate some finance risk by bringing a fully developed property to the funding entities,” Eisenberg said.

The untitled project will focus on Louis’ historic two fights with German boxer Max Schmeling. 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. The two men led lives of unlikely parallels, recognized in the other a kindred spirit and became lifelong friends until Louis’ death in 1981.

Actor-director Duke, whose helming credits include “Predator,” “Menace II Society” and “Sister Act 2,” is attached to lense the feature. The screenplay is completed, and has been written by Eisenberg (author of “The Chronicles of Ara” novel series with Steve Hillard and executive producer of Ovation TV’s upcoming adaptation). Adler’s credits include “Valkyrie,” “Superman Returns” and “Constantine.”

Included in the collaboration as part of the team is the Kirmser Ponturo Group’s Fran Kirmser and Tony Ponturo, who had attained the life rights to the Louis story from Joe Louis Barrow II – all are executive producers on the project. Kirmser Ponturo has produced a series of three sports stories for the stage, most notably “Lombardi.”

Incentives range from $5 to $5,000. For $40, a donor’s name will be on the credits at the end of the film along with a personal thank you tweet from Duke and a limited edition film poster.

For $5,000, the pitch reads: “Invite 29 of your closest friends to join you and Bill Duke for a private screening of one of your favorite Bill Duke films (Predator, Menace II Society,Car Wash, Deep Cover, etc.)  After the screening Mr. Duke will be available for a Q&A…and we’ll provide the theater and popcorn!  You will also receive a thank you tweet from Bill Duke, an autographed film poster and a ‘I Support the Brown Bomber’ Louis vs Schmeling t-shirt!”

“We are not crowdfunding the entire film,” Adler said. “For a period picture, that would be cost-prohibitive and not realistic. We’re offering to bring fans of boxing and of movies into the project, and by so doing not only hope to raise these funds but also involve them in the process.”

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