The film will launch Stallone’s Balboa Productions, created to develop film and television projects.
Johnson was a dominant boxer and the first African-American heavyweight champion. Stallone was instrumental in obtaining a presidential pardon for Johnson, who was convicted of violating the Mann Act in 1910 for transporting a woman across state lines for “immoral purposes.”
MGM Motion Picture Group president Jonathan Glickman and MGM executive vice president of production Adam Rosenberg are overseeing the film on behalf of the studio.
Stallone partnered with MGM on the Rocky movies and the “Creed” spinoff. “Creed II,” which hits theaters in November, is the continuation of the Rocky franchise and the sequel to 2015’s “Creed,” which earned more than $170 million at the worldwide box office. The new film, starring Michael B. Jordan and Stallone, is being directed by Steven Caple Jr., from an original screenplay written by Stallone based on characters from the franchise.
Balboa Productions has also entered into a multi-year deal with Starlight Culture Entertainment for feature film development. Stallone teamed with producer Braden Aftergood on the endeavor.
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Aftergood most recently worked at Eighty Two Films, and previously executive produced “Wind River” and “Hell or High Water.”