In their latest effort to get the long-in-development sports flick McFarland off the bench, Disney has entered negotiations with internationally heralded director Niki Caro.
The film, which is based on a 1997 Los Angeles Times piece titled “A Labor of Love for Boys of McFarland,” tells the true story of Jim White, a high school track and field coach who inspired his team to greatness on and off the field. Disney bought the rights to this story back in 2004, but little progress was made until last April when The Wrap revealed Mayhem Pictures’ producers Mark Ciardi and Gordon Gray had signed on to bring McFarland to life. The pair has previously shepherded the production of three other Disney sports dramas: Miracle, Invincible and Secretariat; so it seemed McFarland was now in good hands. And now, these Mayhem men are courting Caro to helm this California-set sports drama, which THR notes will be made for $20 million and is set to shoot next year.
Caro first made waves in 2002 with her beautifully realized feminist fable Whale Rider, about a young girl who must face down the misogyny within her Maori tribe to take on her destiny. The film drew honors across the world and proved Caro’s prowess for poignant storytelling and tender moments. So to that end, I’m intrigued to see what Caro could do with a sports story in which a group of young men must overcome “many social and physical hurdles to become champions.” But for now we’ll just have to see if she joins the McFarland team, or runs.
Do you think Caro would be a good fit for McFarland?