Mike Fleming

EXCLUSIVE: Ang Lee, who won the Oscar for directing Life Of Pi, will next take his 3D camera technology in a new intriguing direction. I’ve learned that Lee has set up his next project at Universal Pictures, and it’s described to me as an epic look at the boxing world of the 1960s and 1970s, as seen through the prism of its biggest rivalries and greatest fights. That will include the showdown between Joe Frazier and Muhammad Ali that was called the Thrilla In Manila. Peter Morgan will write the script.

The movie will have a narrative that connects the 3D depiction of some of boxing’s great fights, and Lee will produce the film with his longtime producing partner James Schamus. Schamus, who is CEO of Universal-based Focus Features, has collaborated in a writing/producing capacity with Lee on films that range from Eat Drink Man Woman to Sense And Sensibility, The Ice Storm, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Hulk and Brokeback Mountain. No one was commenting, so it was difficult to discern the narrative structure behind the movie, but as a guy who grew up in this era, I think there is thrilling potential in watching Lee get his 3D cameras in the boxing ring, focused on the sport’s great fights from a heyday when everybody knew who was champ, when Ali, Frazer, George Foreman, Marvin Hagler, Tommy Hearns, Robert Duran, Sugar Ray Leonard and others were household names, and when there was no MMA around to steal boxing’s thunder. The idea is to take the exploration of 3D technology and cutting-edge visual effects further, as James Cameron is doing on his Avatar sequels.

Morgan, whose next film is the Universal-released Ron Howard-directed Formula One racing film Rush, also scripted his play Frost/Nixon for the studio. Universal’s Anikah McLaren is overseeing for the studio. Morgan is repped by CAA and UK-based Independent Talent Group, while Lee is repped by CAA and attorneys Joseph Dapello and Ira Schreck.