EXCLUSIVE: Participant and Bron Creative have come on board as co-financiers with Warner Bros Pictures and Macro on the recently completed and untitled drama that tells the powerful story of Illinois Black Panther Party chairman Fred Hampton and William O’Neal, the undercover FBI informant who helped bring him down. Shaka King directed the film, from a screenplay he co-wrote with Will Berson, with story by King & Berson and Keith Lucas & Kenny Lucas. The film, which is now in post-production, is slated for release August 21.
Oscar-nominated Get Out and Marvel Black Panther star Daniel Kaluuya plays Hampton, while Atlanta‘s LaKeith Stanfield (Atlanta) plays O’Neal. The film also stars Jesse Plemons as Roy Mitchell, Dominique Fishback as Deborah Johnson, Ashton Sanders as Larry Roberson, Algee Smith as Jake Winters, and Martin Sheen as J. Edgar Hoover.
The film is set in 1968 Chicago, when Hampton rose to chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panthers—a small but growing group of social activists. That put him on the national stage but also in the crosshairs of the FBI and the Chicago Police Department. Needing intel on their prime target, FBI Special Agent Roy Mitchell makes a deal with car thief William O’Neal: he can avoid prison if he infiltrates Hampton’s inner circle to act as an FBI informant. In the months that follow, O’Neal rises in the ranks of the Panthers to become security chief, growing increasingly fearful that they will discover his betrayal. But as he becomes swept up in Hampton’s powerful message, O’Neal begins to question his own loyalties…even as the police and FBI are closing in. O`Neal gave cops the floor plan to the West Side Panther Party headquarters that was the target of a controversial December 1969 predawn raid in which Hampton and Panthers leader Mark Clark were slain in a hail of bullets. The debate became whether O’Neal was hero or Judas. The informant went into witness protection and surfaced when he was killed after stepping in front of a speeding car. Many felt it was suicide, with Hampton’s family wondering if guilt played a role.
Participant’s Jeff Skoll and Anikah McLaren and Bron Creative’s Aaron L. Gilbert and Jason Cloth board the film as executive producers. The film is exec produced by Macro’s Kim Roth and Poppy Hanks, along with Sev Ohanian, Zinzi Evans, Niija Kuykendall, Ravi Mehta and Ted Gidlow. Charles D. King, Ryan Coogler and Shaka King are producing. Macro boarded the film early as a co-financier of the film.
Said Participant CEO David Linde: “We are thrilled to partner again with Warner Bros. and Macro on a film that is so incredibly relevant to the moment. The story is a crucial part of our history, and to be joining filmmakers like Shaka, Ryan and Charles to help amplify their work is amazing.”
Said Bron’s Gilbert: “We are proud to be a part of the collective team with Warner Bros. Pictures, Participant and Macro in bringing Fred Hampton’s incredible story to life.”
Creative Wealth Media founder/CEO Jason Cloth said: “The array of storytelling talent involved with this project speaks to the power and gravitas of its subject matter. Being in the world-class company of Warner Bros., Participant, Macro and Ryan is inspiring, and ensures Fred’s story will be crafted brilliantly on screen.”
Deal expands Bron and Creative Wealth Media’s relationship with Warner Bros, as both were co-financiers on the billion-dollar grossing Best Picture Oscar-nominated Joker.
For Participant, the film fits into the company’s lean-in on social impact work focused on challenging racism and inequity by looking through the lens of recent history. Recent projects that fit that bill were America to Me, When They See Us, Just Mercy and the upcoming John Lewis: Good Trouble.