After years of stalled attempts to get an updated biopix done on Jackie Robinson — with Spike Lee the one most attached to it — Burbank’s Legendary Pictures announced a deal with Warner Bros., to get together with Robinson’s widow, Rachel, to finally launch a big-screen project together.
According to a press release by the studio, Brian Helgeland (“Mystic River,” “L.A. Confidential”) will write the script and direct the film, Legendary Pictures owner Thomas Tull will produce it, and Jon Jashni will be an executive producer, as will Dick Cook, the former Disney Studios chairman.
Nearly 20 years ago, before the 50th anniversary of Robinson breaking the Major League Baseball color line with the Dodgers in 1947 brought some renewed interest in his life story, rumors circulated about the production of a new movie on his life — updating the one where Robinson starred in as himself in 1950 (linked here).
Lee told us in 1997 that despite script foul-ups, financial setbacks and failed promises, he was “confident the film will get made . . . it’s in limbo now.” He had targeted Denzel Washington as Robinson.
Rachel Robinson said that Lee’s option on the rights for her husband’s life story ran out in Sept., 1996.
A few months ago, it was reported that Hegleland was going to work with Robert Redford on a movie about the life of Dodgers general manager Branch Rickey, with Redford owning the starring role about the man who picked Robinson for “The Great Experiment.” That project still may be alive, but now, comes this.
“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 in a statement released by the production company.
Helgeland said: “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. 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.”
With Warner Bros., Legendary Pictures has been involved in making “The Hangover,” “The Hangover Part II,” “Inception,” “Clash of the Titans” and “The Dark Knight.”