EXCLUSIVE: Alison Owen and Debra Hayward’s Monumental Pictures is set to bring the landmark decision of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 U.S. abortion ruling that paved the way for women to have safe and legal abortions, to the big screen. They’ve tapped writer Jennifer Majka, who co-wrote BAFTA-winning and Oscar-nominated short The Bigger Picture, to pen the script.
It’s a fitting project to unveil on International Women’s Day: A story about the battle of 26 year-old Sarah Weddington and her journey from a small town Texas lawyer to ushering through the biggest U.S. Supreme Court decision of the century, shepherded by a well-respected and award-winning female production duo and a burgeoning writer.
The Roe v. Wade case was filed on behalf of a pregnant single woman “Jane Roe,” or Norma McCorvey, who challenged a Texan law that allowed abortion only to save the life of the mother. At the time, 30 states had laws similar to Texas. In March 1970, Weddington and her co-cousel filed suit against Dallas district attorney Henry Wade before it landed at the U.S. Supreme Court, where it was overturned by a 7-2 majority, thus paving the way for women’s rights throughout the nation.
“We are excited and proud to be collaborating with Jen Majka to tell this important story,” said Owen. “It is one that is close to our hearts and hugely important, particularly in the extraordinary times in which we are living. Women’s reproductive freedom is just as contested now as it was before this case and this is a story that everyone should know.”
Hayward adds: “’Roe vs. Wade reshaped the universal conversation on abortion. The time to revisit its history has never felt more apt, and we’re thrilled to be undertaking the journey along with Jen.”
Since Owen and Hayward set up Monumental in 2014, they have focused on strong, female lead stories for both film and television. The end of March will see the release of the much-anticipated Harlots for ITV, Encore and Hulu, which was created by Moira Buffini and Alison Newman and boasts a nearly all-female crew of producers, directors and writers.
Other developments from the company include Jackie Collins’ Lucky Santangelo Series, written by Buffini; Caitlin Moran’s How To Build A Girl; and a biopic about Victorian mathematician and computer science visionary Ada Lovelace, written by Shawn Slovo.
Owen previously established Ruby Films in 1998 and recently produced Suffragette with Faye Ward for Pathé, Emilia Clarke starrer Me Before You for MGM and Tulip Fever for The Weinstein Company. Further credits include Saving Mr. Banks and The Other Boleyn Girl. Prior to Monumental, Hayward was a huge creative driving force behind UK production powerhouse Working Title’s biggest hits such as Les Miserables, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, and, more recently, Bridget Jones’ Baby.