EXCLUSIVE: Legendary has acquired an original feature film idea from Nate Parker, and has made a deal with him to write, direct and produce it. There is no title and the story is being kept under wraps, but it involves creating a world. The deal comes before what is expected to be a very interesting autumn for Parker, whose directorial debut The Birth of A Nation was a Sundance sensation that resulted in a $17.5 million deal from Fox Searchlight before the film won the Audience Award and Grand Jury Prize.
This becomes the latest bold deal for Thomas Tull’s Legendary, which, under new ownership of China-based Wanda and the leadership of Mary Parent, is zeroing in on the rights to turn Pokemon into a live-action film. Legendary also won the auction for Bad Blood, the pitch that The Big Short‘s Adam McKay will write and direct about the rise and precipitous fall of Silicon Valley blood-testing start-up Theranos, with Jennifer Lawrence to star and produce with McKay and his Gary Sanchez cohorts.
Parker was best known as an actor before he struggled to make his film about the slave uprising led by Nat Turner. Birth Of A Nation opens October 7 and is expected to play a festival like Toronto, and then factor into the Oscar season. Parker is expected to emerge as an A-list hyphenate and the Legendary deal is the latest indication that his life is about to change.
He previously made a deal with Walden Media, which preemptively acquired screen rights to ESPN producer Lisa Fenn’s inspirational memoir Carry On, along with the life rights of Dartanyon Crockett and Leroy Sutton and their unbelievable bond as high school wrestlers. Parker is writing that script about Fenn, an Emmy-winning features producer for ESPN, who in 2009 returned to her Cleveland hometown to chase a story on two disabled wrestlers who attended an impoverished public high school there. Crockett, who despite being legally blind was the team’s best wrestler, would each and every day physically carry to practice and meets Sutton, a 170-plus-pound bundle of muscle who lost both his legs in a train accident when he was 11. Fenn formed a bond with the two young men that became so profound she dedicated the next six years of her life to ensuring their success and well being. Sutton graduated from college, and Crockett won the bronze medal in the 2012 ParaOlympic Games.
Parker is repped by CAA and Anonymous Content.