A biopic about Serena and Venus Williams’ dad is inching closer to fruition.
Warner Bros. is reportedly in the final stages of acquiring the rights to King Richard, which covers the life of Richard Williams and explores how he turned his daughters into international tennis stars.
The company beat out numerous production heavyweights in a competitive bidding war, and is in the midst of cementing a production deal hovering in the $50 million to $60 million range, The Hollywood Reporter revealed Tuesday.
Paramount, Sony’s TriStar, Media Rights Capital (MRC), and Barack and Michelle Obama’s Netflix-based company, Higher Ground Productions, were the other contenders, THR reported.
The impending deal is a big win for writer Zach Baylin, who first put the film’s script on the Black List, a website where aspiring screenwriters can share their work with readers and potential producers. King Richard is the first script of Baylin’s to be made into a major film.
News of the production deal comes weeks after Will Smith reportedly signed on to play Richard, a casting decision that sparked widespread backlash on social media. Some people argued that the choice was indicative of colorism and that an actor with a darker complexion would have been better suited for the role.
Despite the controversy, many fans are excited to see Richard’s compelling story play out on the big screen.
The film’s plot will cover various points of the tennis coach’s life, including his beginnings in Shreveport, Louisiana, and his battles on the tennis courts in Compton, Calif., where he eventually settled with his family.
Richard began giving tennis lessons to Serena and Venus when they were kids, using a 78-page game plan he developed on his own.Serena went on to win the US Open in 1999, while Venus reigned victorious at Wimbledon in 2000. The win at Wimbledon prompted the dad to yell, “Straight Outta Compton!”, a reference to the hip hop group N.W.A.’s 1998 hit.
Serena is considered one of the best women’s tennis players of all time, and she — along with Venus — is a four-time Olympic gold medalist.
At this time, casting decisions for Serena and Venus have yet to be made.