EXCLUSIVE: The Fruitvale Station and Creed team of director Ryan Coogler and Michael B. Jordan are reuniting on Wrong Answer, the true story of how Atlanta high school educators participated in an intricate, systemic standardized-test cheating scandal in 2013. The film has been set at New Regency and Plan B, and Ta-Nehisi Coates will write a script that is based on a 2014 The New Yorker article by Rachel Aviv. Coogler will produce with Plan B’s Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner and Jeremy Kleiner, and New Regency’s Arnon Milchan. New Regency will finance the project.
Coogler and Jordan first talked about wanting to make this movie while promoting Creed. It is not a simple corruption story, by any means. Coogler will direct Jordan in the role of Damany Lewis, a math teacher at Parks Middle School near Atlanta who got caught up in the scandal involving the standardized tests that were part of the No Child Left Behind program that tried to institutionalize higher test scores in schools nationwide. The problem was that the students in Lewis’ school were severely underprivileged; despite the best efforts of Lewis and other teachers, these kids were not making the grades necessary to keep the school from being shuttered. And so Lewis, who in the article was a heroic force for the students of his school and was football, soccer and softball coach and the chess club founder, joined in an effort to cheat the test scores upward. Lewis became part of what was called the largest academic cheating scandal in U.S. history, which saw 11 educators convicted of racketeering. Lewis is a consultant and so is Aviv.
Coates, a recipient of the MacArthur Foundation Genius Fellowship and a National Book Award winner and Pulitzer Prize finalist, has a connection to Coogler and Jordan: he writes the Black Panther comic book series that’s the basis for the upcoming Coogler-directed Marvel Studios film that stars Chadwick Boseman as the superhero, with Jordan also starring.
Coates is represented by UTA, Watkins/Loomis Agency, and Del, Shaw, Moonves. Coogler is WME and Cohen & Gardner, and Jordan is WME, MGMT Entertainment and Bloom Hergott.
Aside from Black Panther, Jordan shortly begins starring with Michael Shannon and exec producing Fahrenheit 451, and starring in the Destin Daniel Cretton-directed Just Mercy.
Wrong Answer continues a string of collaborations between New Regency and Plan B, with credits including the Oscar-winning films The Big Short and 12 Years A Slave. Their next project, the James Gray-directed science fiction thriller Ad Astra, is in pre-production with Plan B partner Brad Pitt set to star.