Paul Greengrass’s plan to make “Memphis,” a movie about the last days of Martin Luther King, fell apart last year when he couldn’t get the financing he needed for the project (he certainly wasn’t the only one in 2011, the year of studio fear). Now comes word that it might be back on.
According to Deadline, Greengrass is on the trail to get the money from the Wild Bunch (the producers, not the gang Marlon Brando belonged to in the movie). Last time part of the problem was that the Greengrass and his partner at the time, Scott Rudin, couldn’t pull the budget together in time to shoot the film for a release over the Martin Luther King holiday weekend; I don’t know if that’s still an issue. Obviously it would be 2014 now.
There also were objections to the script from King’s family, but some of that may have come from the fact that they have their own project in the works. It’s not clear if there’s anything Greengrass would be inclined to do to mollify them.
Here’s how the project is described:
The script depicts Dr. King’s final days as he struggled to organize a protest march on behalf of striking black municipal sanitation workers in Memphis, Tennessee, where he was slain. That storyline is juxtaposed with an intense manhunt for King’s assassin James Earl Ray, involving some of the federal authorities who, at Hoover’s direction, had dogged King’s every step with wiretaps and whispering campaigns before the civil rights leader’s death.
Greengrass went on to make the Somali pirate movie “Captain Phillips” with Tom Hanks, which opens October 13, 2013. He had done some preliminary casting for “Memphis” (I think Hugh Jackman was involved somehow but I could be just imagining that) but if this works out, I’m sure he’d have to start over due to changes in availability.