Universal abandons Martin Luther King assassination flick

Universal Pictures has cut financing to the new Paul Greengrass project titled Memphis, Deadline reports. The studio acquired the film last month and planned to push it into production in June for a 2012 release but has instead pulled the plug.

The film was to chronicle the last days of Martin Luther King, leading up to his assassination. Universal is stating timing and scheduling conflicts as the reason for halting the film, fearing they could not finish in time for Martin Luther King Day next year, when they were hoping for a long weekend release (that is, to make more money).

Deadline has also cited another possible reason for this road block; that the Martin Luther King estate did not approve of the film and imposed pressure on the studio to halt it. Comparisons are being made to when Lee Daniels attempted to make the civil rights film Selma, which gained financing from the Weinstein Company, but so far has not got off the ground.

It is not known whether the MLK estate deemed the screenplay too controversial but Greengrass is now seeking alternative financing to go ahead with the film. It will be, perhaps, in direct competition with another MLK film from DreamWorks, which not only has the backing of the MLK estate, but also bought the rights to use his copyrighted speeches.

Discuss: Sorry to see this controversial project (temporarily) halted, or should we consider it a blessing in disguise?

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