Seven years after W.E. nearly swept away her filmmaking career, Madonna is returning behind the camera to direct MGM’s ballerina drama TAKING FLIGHT for her third feature, the Tracking Board has confirmed.
Taking Flight tells the true story of Michaela De Prince, who grew up as an orphan in war-torn Sierra Leone before being adopted at the age of four and taken to the United States. She later became a world-famous ballerina, most recently appearing in Beyonce’s Lemonade. The project has been in the works since 2015, when MGM first acquired the memoir of the same name, written by Michaela and her mother, Elaine De Prince.
Camilla Blackett wrote the script, and Alloy Entertainment’s Leslie Morgenstein and Elysa Koplovitz Dutton will produce along with Ben Pugh and Guy Oseary. MGM executives Jonathan Glickman and Tabitha Shick will oversee the project for the studio.
“Michaela’s journey resonated with me deeply as both an artist and an activist who understands adversity. 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,” said Madonna.
Madonna may be the highest-selling female recording artist of all time, but she has a questionable track record as a director. Her feature debut, the 2008 British comedy Filth and Wisdom, boasts a 25 percent fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, while her follow-up W.E. registers at 13 percent fresh, though I suppose if it came out now, it would fare better with critics who can’t help but love Oscar Isaac.
Having said that, Taking Flight offers rich, practically irresistible material for Madonna, the best she’s had to work with so far, and with a studio overseeing her progress, she might actually be able to turn in a solid movie this time around. That is, of course, assuming it moves forward at MGM, which doesn’t usually bet on this kind of film. But it’s nice to see them supporting both female directors, and stories about remarkable women.
In addition to Taking Flight, Madonna is developing an adaptation of Andrew Sean Greer’s novel The Impossible Lives of Greta Wells. Her film credits also include writing and producing the AIDS documentary I Am Because We Are.
MGM’s upcoming slate includes Creed II, the Oscar Isaac thriller Operation Finale, a remake of Valley Girl co-starring the controversial YouTube celebrity Logan Paul, and the Anne Hathaway-Rebel Wilson comedy The Hustle. the studio previously teamed with Alloy on the romantic drama Everything, Everything.
Jeff Sneider | Editor in Chief