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Chris Rock and Steven Spielberg to collaborate on Martin Luther King Jr. biopic

Rock is in final talks to direct and produce the project, while Spielberg is on board to executive produce.
Steven Spielberg and Chris Rock.
Steven Spielberg and Chris Rock.Getty Images
/ Source: Variety

Chris Rock and Steven Spielberg are collaborating on a movie about the life of Martin Luther King Jr.

Rock is in final talks to direct and produce the project, with Spielberg on board as executive producer. Universal Pictures is backing the biographical drama after optioning Jonathan Eig’s biography “King: A Life.”

Eig’s book has been called the definitive biography of the late civil rights icon. It uses new FBI information and hundreds of interviews to paint a portrayal of King as a “courageous but emotionally troubled individual who demanded peaceful protest while grappling with his own frailties and a government that hunted him.” Since it’s early in the development process, casting has not been announced.

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Universal’s senior VP of production development Ryan Jones will oversee the project on behalf of the studio. The untitled movie will be produced by Amblin Partners, with Kristie Macosko Krieger serving as producer, and Spielberg as executive producer.

Rock, a four-time Emmy and three-time Grammy winner, previously directed 2014’s “Top Five,” 2003’s “Head of State” and 2007’s “I Think I Love My Wife.” He’ll be seen in director George C. Wolfe’s “Rustin,” starring Colman Domingo as the civil rights activist. Earlier this year, he debuted his Netflix live stand-up special “Chris Rock: Selective Outrage,” which was widely viewed because it was one of the first times he spoke publicly about getting slapped on stage at the Oscars by Will Smith.

The book option was brokered by Lucy Stille at Lucy Stille Literary on behalf of the David Black Agency.

Rock is repped by CAA, Untitled Entertainment, Yorn, Levine, Barnes, Krintzman, Rubenstein, Kohner, Endlich & Gellman, Vision PR. Deadline first reported the news.