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Steven Caple Jr. to Direct ‘Creed 2’ Starring Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone (EXCLUSIVE)

MGM and Warner Bros. have tapped up-and-coming director Steven Caple Jr. to direct Michael B. Jordan and Sylvester Stallone in “Creed 2,” sources tell Variety, with production expected to start in spring 2018.

Along with Jordan and Stallone, Tessa Thompson will also return for the sequel, reprising her role as Bianca.

Sources also say that Ryan Coogler, who directed “Creed,” is expected to join in an executive producer role, though a deal has not yet closed, as Coogler is currently wrapping up post-production on Marvel’s “Black Panther.”

Stallone had considered directing “Creed 2” at one point, but after talking it over with Jordan and the execs, they made the decision to find another director. After a lengthy search, Jordan and Stallone personally picked Caple to take the reins.

Caple will direct from an original screenplay written by Stallone and Cheo Hodari Coker (showrunner of “Luke Cage”) based on characters from the Rocky franchise. The film is being produced by Irwin Winkler, Charles Winkler, William Chartoff, David Winkler, and Kevin King-Templeton. Jordan and Guy Riedel will executive produce.

“We could not be more fortunate and excited for the collaboration of Steven, Sly, Michael and the producers, to build upon the success of ‘Creed,'” said Jonathan Glickman, MGM’s president, motion picture group. “The combination of Steven’s talent and unique vision makes him the perfect director to continue the Rocky franchise’s storied lineage.”

Jordan also commented about the casting on Twitter:

The upcoming installment follows Adonis Creed (Jordan)’s life inside and outside of the ring as he deals with new-found fame, issues with his family, and his continuing quest to become a champion.

“It’s an honor to be a part of such an iconic franchise and to work with such great collaborators,” Caple said. “Mike, Sly, and Tessa are extraordinarily talented and bring something special to today’s culture. I look forward to joining the family and continuing the precedent set by this franchise’s alumni of incredible filmmakers.”

Production is set to begin in Philadelphia in March.

“We recognized Steven’s talent for telling ambitious stories with incredible heart in ‘The Land,'” said producer Irwin Winkler. “We are confident what he will bring to ‘Creed 2’ will result in a story that resonates with audiences all over the world.”

The gig is Caple’s first feature at a major studio. Insiders say his work on the IFC pic “The Land,” Caple’s coming-of-age tale that he directed right out of USC, was a big selling point for Jordan, Stallone, and the execs. “The Land” premiered at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival and tells the story of four teenage boys who devote their summer to escaping the streets of Cleveland to pursue a dream life of professional skateboarding.

“The character of Adonis Creed reflects this generation and its challenges,” Stallone said. “I believe it’s important for the director to also be a part of this generation like I was in mine, to make the story as relatable as possible. We are extremely lucky to have the talented young filmmaker Steven Caple Jr. step up and accept the role of director. I am confident that he and Michael B. Jordan will hit it out of the park!”

MGM recently announced that it was back in the theatrical distribution game and will handle domestic distribution rights for “Creed 2,” with WB handling international.

The movie is dated for Nov. 21, 2018. The most recent “Creed” completely revamped the Rocky series, not only grossing $110 million at the domestic box office, but also earning Stallone an Oscar nomination for his performance.

While plot details about the sequel are still vague, Stallone had hinted that the story would revolve around the Ivan Drago character who infamously killed Creed’s father Apollo in “Rocky IV.”

Caple recently wrote HBO’s high-profile Emmett Till project, produced by Will Smith and Jay-Z. His directing credits include the season finale of Freeform’s upcoming “Grown-ish.” Forbes named Caple one of this year’s 30 Under 30 in Hollywood & Entertainment.

Capel is repped by WME and Untitled Entertainment. Jordan is represented by WME; Stallone is represented by WME; and Thompson is represented by Greene & Associates Talent Agency, Mosaic, and Hansen Jacobson.

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