Chris Rock is in final negotiations to direct and produce a biopic based on the life of Martin Luther King Jr. at Universal, an individual with knowledge of the project told IndieWire.
The film, which will be executive produced by Steven Spielberg, will be based on “King: A Life,” Jonathan Eig’s new biography that Universal has optioned and that The New York Times called the “definitive” bio of MLK Jr. and the first comprehensive account of his life in decades.
The project will be produced by Amblin Partners, with Kristie Macosko Krieger serving as producer, and Spielberg as EP.
“King: A Life” was a NYT Bestseller and a National Book Award nominee. The book utilizes new FBI information from previously untapped primary sources and hundreds of interviews. Eig presents King Jr. as courageous but emotionally troubled, someone who demanded peaceful protest but also grappled with his own frailties.
This is Rock’s first turn as a director of a feature since 2014’s comedy “Top Five,” which he also wrote. Rock also directed “Head of State” (2003) and “I Think I Love My Wife” (2007). He most recently released his stand-up special “Selective Outrage” on Netflix, the streamer’s first-ever live-streamed event.
Eig is the author of six books, including “The Birth of The Pill,” “Ali: A Life,” and “Luckiest Man: The Life and Death of Lou Gehrig,” all of which have been optioned and are in active development for either film and TV. Eig also served as a consulting producer for the PBS series “Muhammad Ali,” directed by Ken Burns. Eig is the winner of a PEN Literary Award and National Book Award nominee.
Universal’s Senior Vice President of Production Development Ryan Jones will oversee the project on behalf of the Studio.
The book option was brokered by Lucy Stille at Lucy Stille Literary on behalf of the David Black Agency. Rock is represented by CAA, Untitled Entertainment, Yorn, Levine, Barnes, Krintzman, Rubenstein, Kohner, Endlich & Gellman, and Vision PR.
Deadline first reported the news.