Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: I’m hearing a bid made by MGM–with Sony Pictures distributing–is now the frontrunner for Southpaw, the Antoine Fuqua-directed boxing film that will star Eminem. The other suitors in the ring on this have been Alcon Entertainment and Summit Entertainment. There was no comment from the parties involved. Deadline revealed in August that DreamWorks had dropped out of the  boxing drama that had Eminem poised to return to the screen for the first time since 2002′s 8 Mile, and Fuqua directing a script by Sons of Anarchy creator Kurt Sutter. Suitors were all over it, quickly. DreamWorks’ Stacey Snider, who bought the project as a pitch last year and who worked closely with Eminem and his team on 8 Mile while she ran Universal, basically gave the project back to the filmmakers to set up elsewhere. Several outlets were impressed by the script and how it was a custom fit for the tribulations overcome by Eminem after he became a big hip hop star. Eminem will play a fast-rising welterweight boxer who brawls his way to the title, only to see his world crash down around him due to a tragedy. The drama is about his fight to reclaim past glory for himself and his young daughter. Sutter told me at the time that the project was partly inspired by Eminem’s own struggles that inform his music and mirror his life. “In a way, this is a continuation of the 8 Mile story, but rather than a literal biography, we are doing a metaphorical narrative of the second chapter of his life,” Sutter said. “He’ll play a world champion boxer who really hits a hard bottom, and has to fight to win back his life for his young daughter. At its core, this is a retelling of his struggles over the last five years of his life, using the boxing analogy. I love that the title refers to [Eminem] being a lefty, which is to boxing what a white rapper is to hip hop; dangerous, unwanted and completely unorthodox. It’s a much harder road for a southpaw than a right-handed boxer.” Fuqua, a former Golden Gloves boxer himself, joined the project later on.

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