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'Southpaw' gets up off the mat with the Weinstein Co.

February 22, 2013|By Steven Zeitchik
  • Antoine Fuqua
Antoine Fuqua

EXCLUSIVE: “Southpaw,” the Antoine Fuqua movie about a boxer whose life takes some rough turns, has followed a path not unlike that of its hero.

DreamWorks was going to make the gritty drama back in 2011, then dropped it. Soon after, MGM picked it up and was set to distribute the film via Sony -- then put the project in turnaround.

Now the movie will live to fight another round courtesy of the Weinstein Co., which has bought rights to the scrappy project, according to Fuqua.

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The “Training Day” helmer remains attached to direct the movie and could go into production as soon as this year. In recent weeks, he and Weinstein executives have convened to discus casting.

Penned by “Sons of Anarchy” creator Kurt Sutter, “Southpaw” tells of a lefthanded prizefighter who wins a title but then suffers a tragedy and must put the pieces together to earn the respect of his young daughter.

"It’s about boxing but it's not about boxing," Fuqua, himself a longtime boxer, told The Times. "The heart of the movie is about a man learning to be a father."

The film was bought as a pitch by DreamWorks, which then hired Sutter to write it.

"Southpaw" at one point was to mark Eminem’s return to a star film vehicle -- his first since the similarly hardscrabble “8 Mile” in 2002; the movie was even seen as a companion piece to "8 Mile," and its story informed by that movie. But Eminem has since opted to concentrate on his music and will most likely not be involved with this new iteration.

Family-themed dramas set against the boxing world have found success in recent years, with "The Fighter" a global hit and multiple Oscar winner in 2010 and 2011.

Fuqua next has ”Olympus Has Fallen,” the Gerard Butler White House action pic out in March (more on that shortly), and also recently completed a documentary about Suge Knight for Showtime.

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