EXCLUSIVE: Justin Chadwick is making a deal to direct the untitled film about the landmark Signal Hill police brutality case in 1981 that has Anthony Mackie playing attorney Johnnie Cochran. The script is by David McMillan, and the film is backed by The Firm. Mackie and Jason Spire will produce with Robbie Brenner, and Kevin McKeon and Jeff Kwatinetz will also produce. McMillan is exec producer.
Chadwick most recently helmed Tulip Fever and Mandela: The Long Walk To Freedom. Mackie is coming off Captain America: Civil War, and starring with Bryan Cranston in the Jay Roach-directed HBO pic All The Way, in which the actor plays Martin Luther King. Here, he will play Cochran in the case that established the litigator.
While Cochran would go on to represent celebrities from Simpson to Michael Jackson and Jim Brown, his rise to fame as an advocate for blacks suffering in police brutality cases was galvanized by his work in the landmark Signal Hill case. He represented a football player, Cal State Long Beach star Ron Settles, who had been picked up for speeding in Signal Hill, in Los Angeles County.
Shortly after his arrest, he was found hanged in his cell. The police called it a suicide, but an autopsy — performed after Cochran persuaded Settles’ family to exhume the body — showed that he had been choked to death. The family was awarded $760,000 in a civil suit, the police chief resigned, and reforms were mandated. Cochran died in 2005.
The Signal Hill drama is the third movie hatched since The Firm’s film division was launched by Brenner, who produced Dallas Buyers Club. The Jennifer Garner starrer Tribes Of Palos Verdes shoots this month in L.A., and The Paladin also is in the works.
Mackie is repped by UTA and Inspire. Chadwick is repped by UTA.