EXCLUSIVE: Ang Lee is getting a rematch on his ambitious 3D film based on the classic Thrilla In Manila brawl between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier. The project, which originated at Universal Pictures after Lee won the Oscar for directing Life Of Pi, is fast coming back together at Jeff Robinov’s Studio 8. Deadline first revealed back in 2013 Lee’s desire to make the film, an epic look at the boxing world when heavyweights like Ali and Frazier ruled the sporting landscape. Back then, Peter Morgan wrote a script and Lee planned to produce the film with his longtime producing partner James Schamus. Studio 8 insiders said it’s in development, but I hear that Lee has already begun scouting and would like this to be the next film he directs.
The project seemed to be on the ropes for a time, and Lee moved instead to adapt the Ben Fountain novel Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk for Sony. Lee, who has broken ground in cinematic techniques on Life Of Pi and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, has placed an emphasis on continuing to push the envelope with advancing screen technology, and he shot Billy Lynn in 120 frames a second 3D. Don’t be surprised if that is exactly how he immerses moviegoers in the drama leading up to a reenactment of one of the great boxing matches of the 20th Century.
There is symmetry here. Robinov is known for taking big swings with filmmakers, from the Wachowskis on The Matrix to Alfonso Cuaron on Gravity. This certainly falls into that category. Also, Lee made Life of Pi with Tom Rothman at Fox, and they re-teamed on Billy Lynn. Sony will release the boxing pic through its Studio 8 deal.
Lee is repped by CAA and attorneys Joseph Dapello and Ira Schreck.