Just as Hollywood couldn’t have made only one volcano movie in 1997, or one asteroid movie in 1998, biopics have long come in pairs, with dueling films about Truman Capote, Alfred Hitchcock, and Batman trying to find different angles on a familiar figure’s life story. With dueling Jimi Hendrix biopics in the works, and a slew of competing Janis Joplin movies now celebrating 20 years of existing only as casting rumors (Amy Adams! Zooey Deschanel! Pink! The Tupac Hologram!), Hollywood has upped the ante, with no less than three competing biopics of legendary Olympic runner Jesse Owens now in the works. Owens made history by winning four gold medals at the 1936 Berlin Olympics, making a rousing, personal rebuke to Hitler’s theories of racial superiority, with Der Führer looking on from the stands.
Of the numerous films in the works, the gold-medal favorite, (probably because it has the trifecta of writer, director and star attached), is Race, with Stephen Hopkins directing a script from Anna Waterhouse and the awesomely named Joe Shrapnel. John Boyega (Attack The Block) has dropped out of the lead role in favor of Episode VII: The Legend Of Chewie’s Gold, but Stephan James—already recounting another important moment in Civil Rights history with a role in Selma, currently in production—has stepped in to replace him.
The strongest challenger so far is an as-yet-untitled Disney project based on Jeremy Schaap’s book Triumph, with a script from The King’s Speech screenwriter David Seidler, but no director or star attached. And an intriguing dark horse is Anthony Mackie, who wants to make room in his busy schedule to produce and star in a film about Owens he’s working on with We Are Marshall writer Jamie Linden.
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