*Deadline.com is reporting that the Eminem boxing drama “Southpaw” from director Antoine Fuqua is down for the count at DreamWorks.
Deadline’s Mike Fleming reports:
The plan was to start in January. DreamWorks’ Stacey Snider, who worked closely with Eminem and his team on “8 Mile” while she ran Universal, basically gave the project back to the filmmakers to set up elsewhere and that’s what they are trying to do.
Maybe DreamWorks was concerned the market is crowded with brawler films after “The Fighter” and the upcoming Gavin O’Connor-directed mixed martial arts drama “Warrior,” or maybe the studio’s cautious after its big bet on “Cowboys & Aliens” didn’t pay off. (I’m sure it’s coincidence that Snider once unplugged the Fuqua-directed version of “American Gangster” before putting the picture back together with Ridley Scott).
But given the appetite of a crop of distributors looking for wide release product, I’d be surprised if this one, which is fully packaged, doesn’t get off the canvas quickly.
DreamWorks took “Southpaw” off the table as a pitch late last year, with Eminem attached to play a fast-rising welterweight boxer who brawls his way to the title, only to see his world crash down around him due to a tragedy. The drama is about his fight to reclaim past glory for himself and his young daughter.
Sutter told me at the time that the project was partly inspired by Eminem’s own struggles that inform his music and mirror his life. “In a way, this is a continuation of the ‘8 Mile’ story, but rather than a literal biography, we are doing a metaphorical narrative of the second chapter of his life,” Sutter said. “He’ll play a world champion boxer who really hits a hard bottom, and has to fight to win back his life for his young daughter. At its core, this is a retelling of his struggles over the last five years of his life, using the boxing analogy. I love that the title refers to [Eminem] being a lefty, which is to boxing what a white rapper is to hip hop; dangerous, unwanted and completely unorthodox. It’s a much harder road for a southpaw than a right-handed boxer.”
Fuqua, a former Golden Gloves boxer, joined the project later on.