Paul Greengrass Readies MLK Assassination Thriller Memphis

This coming Monday marks what would have been the 83rd anniversary of the birth of civil-rights hero Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Atlanta, Georgia — and now Vulture hears exclusively that director Paul Greengrass plans to make his next film about the events leading up to King’s assassination in Memphis, Tennessee.

Insiders tell us that Greengrass wrote the movie — titled simply Memphis — based on his own original research, and that it looks at King’s life while trying to organize the city’s sanitation workers in the spring of 1968, just before his murder on April 4 of that year. If so, that’d make for a much more human portrayal of King than some might expect. By the spring of 1968, King’s personal and professional lives were in disarray: His marriage was faltering; he was chain-smoking, boozing, and packing on the pounds. King’s outspokenness on the Vietnam War cost him his relationship with President Johnson, and his newfound interest in labor organization and the urban poor put him on the fringes of the rising Black Power movement.

Insiders tell us that producer Scott Rudin is in discussions to possibly make the project with Greengrass at Focus Features, though we’re told no formal negotiations have started — yet.

More details as we learn them, but it sounds like a fascinating movie, as myriad conspiracy theories about King’s murder by James Earl Ray abound and implicate everyone from the CIA, the FBI, the mafia, the Green Berets, LBJ, the Memphis Police and Fire Departments, and even the Boy Scouts of America.

Paul Greengrass Readies MLK Assassination Thriller Memphis