EXCLUSIVE: DreamWorks has made a preemptive acquisition of Southpaw, a pitch for a star vehicle for Eminem (Marshall Mathers) that will be written by Sons of Anarchy creator/exec producer Kurt Sutter. Like in Eminem’s 2002 screen starring debut 8 Mile, Southpaw will be fueled by the struggles that inform Eminem’s music and mirror his life. Eminem will play a fast-rising welterweight boxer who brawls his way to the title, only to see his world crash down around him due to tragedy. The movie is about his fight to reclaim past glory.
The pitch was bought in the room by DreamWorks co-chairman/CEO Stacey Snider, who got first crack because she championed 8 Mile when she was Universal Pictures chief. The film will be produced by Eminem’s Shady Films’ managers and producing partners Paul Rosenberg and Stuart Parr, and Alan and Peter Riche of Riche Productions. The deal comes as Eminem’s comeback album, Recovery, just got 10 Grammy Awards nominations.
Sutter, who just completed the third season of his FX series, said the project was borne out of his observation of Eminem’s struggles. “I took meetings with Marshall’s producing partners over the past 7 years, looking for something to do together,” Sutter told me. “I know he’s very selective and doesn’t do a lot. But he shared so much of his personal struggle in this raw and very honest album, one that I connected with on a lot of levels. He is very interested in the boxing genre, and it seemed like an apt metaphor, because his own life has been a brawl. 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. 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 Marshall 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.”
“There is a rich story her that references his own experience, and I was honored to be able to continue a relationship that began with 8 Mile,” Snider told me. She’ll steer the project with DreamWorks co-president Mark Sourian. Sutter and Eminem are repped by ICM. David Schiff will be exec producer.