Photo: Rex USA/Everett Collection.
Bad news, film fans: Oliver Stone has officially ditched his plans to bring a Martin Luther King, Jr. biopic to the big screen. "I’m told the estate & the ‘respectable’ black community that guard King’s reputation won’t approve it," the director announced over Twitter. "They suffocate the man & the truth."
What Stone is referring to, of course, is the King estate's protectiveness over the civil-rights leader's legacy. While it was DreamWorks and Warner Bros. who officially rejected Stone's script, it's MLK's estate that owns the rights to his iconic speeches, which grants it final say over any script about the man's life. And, if Stone's previous biopics are any indication, the controversial director would have likely not glossed over King's imperfections, his alleged infidelity among them.
Sharing King's saga has long been one of Hollywood's top priorities, but his estate has been very careful to protect the virtually unblemished image of one of the 20th century's most revered figures. Just two years ago, director Paul Greengrass' attempt at documenting the last few days of King's life was mysteriously abandoned by Universal despite early acclaim for the script, called Memphis. Though Universal blamed it on scheduling, according to Deadline, insiders believe King's estate blocked the film, which featured scenes of the leader with a woman that was not his wife.
While the story of Martin Luther King, Jr. is too iconic and too central to the American identity to not get the big-screen treatment, it's possible any future films won't offer the complete picture of a man whose life was at times turbulent. Stone tweeted similar concerns: "I fear if ‘they’ ever make it, it’ll be just another commemoration of the March on Washington." And, while there would be nothing wrong with a movie that focuses on King's monumental achievements, we hope that when a cinematic depiction of his life does emerge, it gives us the whole story, warts and all. (Deadline)