Last week, Madonna revealed that she was working with Oscar-winning writer Diablo Cody on a biopic about her remarkable life and career, and today Collider can reveal that Madonna will also direct and produce the untitled film for Universal Pictures.
Universal had previously been developing an unrelated Madonna movie titled Blonde Ambition based on the high-ranking Black List script by Elyse Hollander, and while industry executives praised Hollander’s screenplay, Madonna was clearly perturbed. “Nobody knows what I know and what I have seen. Only I can tell my story. Anyone else who tries is a charlatan and a fool looking for instant gratification without doing the work,” the singer wrote on Instagram at the time.
Music biopics such as Bohemian Rhapsody and Rocketman have fared well with audiences of late, but both of those projects had the support of their respective subjects, Queen and Elton John. Universal clearly felt there was no point in moving forward with Blonde Ambition without Madonna’s support, but the studio also loved the idea of making a Madonna movie, so executives simply decided to bring the singer into the fold.
Madonna will now co-write the script with Cody (Juno) and produce alongside Amy Pascal, with whom she worked on the 1992 classic A League of Their Own. Pascal will produce via her Universal-based Pascal Pictures banner, while Sara Zambreno and Guy Oseary will serve as executive producers. Universal executives Erik Baiers and Lexi Barta will oversee the high-profile project on behalf of the studio, which still holds the rights to Blonde Ambition but is no longer developing that project.
Madonna is a multi-award-winning artist, activist and humanitarian, not to mention one of the world’s most influential icons. Certified as the best-selling female music artist in history, she has sold 335 million records worldwide and remains the highest-grossing solo touring artist of all time. Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2008, Madonna has graced more than 4,700 coveted magazine covers worldwide. She’s also a passionate freedom fighter who isn’t afraid to serve as a voice for the disenfranchised — fighting for LGBTQ rights, speaking out for gender equality, and supporting orphans and vulnerable children through her non-profit organization, Raising Malawi.
“I want to convey the incredible journey that life has taken me on as an artist, a musician, a dancer — a human being, trying to make her way in this world,” said Madonna. “The focus of this film will always be music. Music has kept me going and art has kept me alive. There are so many untold and inspiring stories, and who better to tell it than me? It’s essential to share the roller coaster ride of my life with my voice and vision.”
“Madonna is the ultimate icon, humanitarian, artist and rebel. With her singular gift of creating art that is as accessible as it is boundary-pushing, she has shaped our culture in a way very few others have,” said Universal’s Donna Langley. “It’s an incredible honor for everyone at Universal to work alongside her, Diablo, and Amy to bring audiences and dedicated fans around the world her unvarnished story for the first time.”
Though she may be best known as a groundbreaking musician, Madonna has also made her mark on the big screen over the course of her five-decade career thanks to starring roles in Desperately Seeking Susan, Dick Tracy, A League of Their Own and 1996’s Evita, which earned her a Golden Globe for Best Actress. She was also the subject of the 1991 documentary Madonna: Truth or Dare, which was the highest-grossing documentary from the time of its debut up until 2002, when Bowling for Columbine hit theaters.
As a director, Madonna’s credits include the 2008 British dramedy Filth & Wisdom, as well as the 2011 romantic drama W.E. starring Abbie Cornish, Oscar Isaac and Andrea Riseborough. Madonna also wrote, produced and narrated the 2008 documentary I Am Because We Are, about the children of Malawi who have been orphaned as a result of the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
Cody won an Oscar for writing Jason Reitman‘s Juno, and she went on to pen the director’s two best films — Young Adult and Tully, both starring Charlize Theron. Cody’s additional feature credits include Karyn Kusama‘s genre movie Jennifer’s Body and Jonathan Demme‘s music-driven film Ricki and the Flash starring Meryl Streep. Cody also co-created a pair of notable TV shows — Showtime’s United States of Tara with Steven Spielberg, and Amazon’s One Mississippi with Tig Notaro. Cody is represented by WME, MXN Entertainment and McKuin Frankel Whitehead, while Madonna is repped by CAA and Maverick.