Los Angeles (March 13, 2018) – Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures (MGM) announced today Golden Globe and Grammy Award winning global icon Madonna (W.E.) is set to direct Taking Flight, based on Michaela DePrince and Elaine DePrince’s Random House Children’s memoir Taking Flight: From War Orphan to Star Ballerina. The announcement was made by Jonathan Glickman, President, Motion Picture Group, MGM.
Camilla Blackett (Fresh Off the Boat, New Girl) will adapt the screenplay for Taking Flight, which follows DePrince’s life as an orphan in war-torn Sierra Leone as she overcomes great odds to become a world- famous ballerina. DePrince was featured in the 2012 ballet documentary First Position and later debuted as a professional dancer at the age of 17 in the Joburg Ballet in South Africa. She appeared in Beyonce’s 2016 cultural phenomenon “Lemonade” and is currently a soloist at the Dutch National Ballet.
Madonna made her directing debut on 2008’s Filth and Wisdom, a comedy centered on three flatmates living desperate lives in London which she co-wrote with Dan Cadan. She also directed and co-wrote 2011’s W.E. alongside Alek Keshishian. The drama chronicled the relationship between British King Edward VIII and American divorcee Wallis Simpson. Her upcoming projects include co-writing and directing a film adaptation of Andrew Sean Greer’s novel, The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells. Tentatively titled Loved, the film portrays the protagonist’s relationship with her gay twin brother. She produced and wrote I Am Because We Are, a documentary looking into the lives of Malawi’s over one million orphans in the wake of the AIDS pandemic.
A master of personal and professional reinvention, Madonna is the highest-selling female recording artist of all time. She has sold more than 300 million albums worldwide and has won over 200 awards including seven Grammy Awards, two Golden Globes Awards and two Brit Awards.
Glickman said, “We could not be more thrilled that Madonna will bring this remarkable story to the big screen. There is no director better suited to tell Michaela’s journey with passion and sensitivity, and we cannot wait to bring this film to audiences all around the world.”
Madonna said, “Michaela’s journey resonated with me deeply as both an artist and an activist who understands adversity,” said Madonna. “We have a unique opportunity to shed light on Sierra Leone and let Michaela be the voice for all the orphaned children she grew up beside. I am honored to bring her story to life.”
Alloy Entertainment’s Leslie Morgenstein and Elysa Koplovitz Dutton will produce alongside Ben Pugh and Guy Oseary. Glickman and Tabitha Shick, MGM’s Executive Director of Worldwide Motion Pictures, are overseeing the project on behalf of the studio.
“We were immediately awestruck by Michaela’s journey and know Madonna’s vision and passion for the material will deliver a film that inspires audiences everywhere,” said Les Morgenstein.
MGM has had a successful track record adapting books to screen, most recently with Warner Bros. Pictures on the romantic drama Everything, Everything, based on Nicola Yoon’s best-selling novel and produced by Alloy Entertainment; Me Before You, based on Jojo Moyes’ international best-seller, which went on to gross $200 million worldwide with Warner Bros. Pictures; If I Stay, based on the young adult best-seller from Gayle Forman, which went on to do well at the box office with Warner Bros. Pictures and New Line. Warner Bros. Pictures, MGM and Alloy Entertainment are currently in pre-production on The Sun Is Also A Star, based on the bestselling YA novel by Nicola Yoon, directed by Ry Russo-Young and starring Yara Shahidi.
MGM’s upcoming 2018 slate includes: The Hustle, a hilarious new comedy about two female scam artists, one low rent and the other high class, who compete to swindle a naive tech billionaire out of his fortune starring Academy Award winner Anne Hathaway and Rebel Wilson, will release in theaters on June 29; Fighting With My Family, a comedy-drama written and directed by Stephen Merchant, based on the true personal story of WWE Superstar PaigeTM and her family of professional wrestlers, starring Florence Pugh, Vince Vaughn and Dwayne Johnson, will release in U.S. theaters on September 14; Operation Finale, directed by Chris Weitz and starring Golden Globe Winner Oscar Isaac and Academy Award Winner Ben Kingsley will release on September 21; Creed II, a continuation of the Rocky saga, starring Golden Globe Winner and Academy Award nominee Sylvester Stallone and Michael B. Jordan, will be released in partnership with Warner Bros. Pictures on November 21.
Alloy Entertainment is behind the global television franchises Pretty Little Liars, Vampire Diaries and Gossip Girl and feature films Sisterhood of the Traveling Pantsand Sex Drive. Most recently Alloy Entertainment produced Everything, Everything, with MGM and Warner Bros., staring Amandla Stenberg and is currently in post-production on Good Girls Get High for Verizon’s go90 directed by Laura Teruso.
Madonna is represented by CAA and Maverick Management. ICM Partners and Full Circle Literary represent Taking Flight: From War Orphan to Star Ballerina.