The news broke back in April that Robert Redford would be playing former baseball player and executive Branch Rickey in an upcoming movie from L.A. Confidential co-writer Brian Helgeland. While that project is very much still alive, a press release from Legendary Pictures indicates that the focus has shifted to Rickey‘s friend, Jackie Robinson.
Robinson is, as most people know, the first black athlete to ever legally play in the MLB. Even though he’s considered a great player, his time with the Los Angeles Dodgers is best known for the many benchmarks it set in the civil rights movement, both on and off the baseball field. Those huge accomplishments are reason enough to make the movie about him. While it wouldn’t have been possible without the help of Rickey, that’s not the story that people necessarily want to hear. The original movie was said to focus more on “the complex relationship” the two shared, with Redford saying it would tell “the story underneath the story you thought you knew.” However, only Robinson is mentioned in the press release, indicating that a change has been made. That same document describes the forthcoming picture as focusing on “history’s most celebrated baseball figure,” and is said to “pay tribute to the legacy and impact Robinson made when he became the first African American Major League Baseball player.”
You can read the full press release below:
LEGENDARY PICTURES TO DEVELOP AND PRODUCE MOTION PICTURE BASED ON THE ICONIC LIFE STORY OF JACKIE ROBINSON
Burbank, CA – June 1, 2011 – Legendary Pictures announced today that it will develop and produce a new film based on history’s most celebrated baseball figure, Jackie Robinson. The movie will pay tribute to the legacy and impact Robinson made when he became the first African American Major League Baseball player.
Legendary will collaborate with Robinson’s widow, Rachel Robinson, to ensure the authenticity of the famed player’s story. Brian Helgeland (LA CONFIDENTIAL / MYSTIC RIVER) will write and direct, with Legendary’s Chairman and CEO, Thomas Tull, producing, and Legendary’s Chief Creative Officer, Jon Jashni, serving as executive producer. Dick Cook, former Chairman of Walt Disney Studios, will also serve as an executive producer. The project will fall under Legendary’s overall agreement with Warner Bros.
“We are deeply honored and grateful to be able to bring the Jackie Robinson story to audiences around the world,” said Tull. “The legacy he left on history, society and the sport of baseball is one that will never be forgotten, and we are pleased to tell this amazing story of a true American hero.”
“My family and I are thrilled to have this important film on Jack produced by Legendary Pictures. We are proud of his lasting impact on our society, and we know that the legacy he left is inspiring and worth preserving,” said Rachel Robinson.
“There are few opportunities that come along as a filmmaker that allow the opportunity to share a true story with your audience, let alone one as powerful and inspiring as that of Jackie Robinson’s,” stated Helgeland. “I believe that with the support of Rachel Robinson we have a unique opportunity to bring one of the most famed stories in American culture and baseball to the screen.”
About Legendary Entertainment
Legendary Entertainment is a leading media company with film, television and comics divisions dedicated to owning, producing and delivering content to mainstream audiences with a targeted focus on the powerful fandom demographic. Through complete or joint ownership, Legendary is building a library of marquee media properties and has established itself as a trusted brand which consistently delivers high-quality, commercial entertainment including some of the world’s most popular intellectual property. Among the wholly-owned projects that Legendary Pictures is currently developing in-house are an adaptation of the phenomenally successful interactive game universe Warcraft, to be directed by Sam Raimi (Spiderman); Godzilla, based on Toho Company’s famed character; Pacific Rim directed by Guillermo del Toro; Warren Ellis’ Gravel; and Mass Effect, based on Electronic Arts and BioWare’s hit videogame franchise. With partner Warner Bros., Legendary’s productions include the recent smash hit, The Hangover Part II, which holds the distinction of posting the highest opening weekend gross ever for a comedy film, the critically acclaimed Inception, which has been a box office smash grossing more than $823 million worldwide, as well as the global blockbusters Clash of the Titans ($493 million worldwide), The Dark Knight ($1 billion worldwide), 300 ($456 million worldwide) and The Hangover ($467 million worldwide).
How do you feel about the movie’s main subject switching from Rickey to Robinson? Do you have a greater interest in one over the other?
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