BREAKING: The soccer icon’s life story will be told by writer-directors Michael and Jeff Zimbalist (The Two Escobars) after Imagine Entertainment and Seine Pictures licensed his life rights via Sports Licensing International B.V. The pic is in preproduction now with an August start date planned. Exclusive Media will sell worldwide rights at the Cannes film market, with Pele scheduled to make an appearance on the Croisette to pump up the project. Brian Grazer, Ivan Orlic, Kim Roth and Dany Wolf are producers; Pelé, Paul Kemsley and Guy East are exec producers. Domestic rights are repped by CAA and WME.
The feature film will tell the story of who most consider the best soccer player in the history of the game. It will follow his rise to glory from impoverished youth in Brazil to a soccer prodigy who led soccer-mad Brazil to its first-ever World Cup title in 1958, when at age 17 he became the youngest player to play in the final, scoring two goals to beat Sweden. His teams won three World Cup titles.
The subject matter is right in the wheelhouse of the Zimbalists. The Two Escobars was a riveting ESPN 30 For 30 documentary that told the story of the collision of Colombia’s national team (led by defender Andres Escobar) and notorious drug lord Pablo Escobar during the 1994 World Cup in the U.S. (check out the trailer for it below). Jeff Zimbalist also directed the 2005 docu Favela Rising, about the role of the AfroReggae movement in uniting a violent Brazilian slum.
Imagine and Exclusive are partnering on Ron Howard’s Formula 1 pic Rush, which is in postproduction and slated for release on September 20 via Universal Pictures.