ATLANTA – DreamWorks Studios plans to tell the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s story on the big screen in a film to be co-produced by Steven Spielberg, the studio announced Tuesday.
DreamWorks said it has acquired the civil rights leader's life from The King Estate. Officials are touting the project as the first theatrical motion picture authorized by the estate using King's intellectual property, including copyrighted speeches and other works, as the basis for the film.
King Estate Chairman and chief executive officer Dexter King was quoted in a press release announcing the deal.
"We hope that this will be the definitive film on his life and legacy," Dexter King said.
Dexter King's siblings, Bernice King and Martin Luther King III, were not involved in negotiating the deal. They did not immediately return a phone call Tuesday from The Associated Press.
The siblings have been involved in several disputes regarding their parents' intellectual property in the past year. Bernice King and Martin Luther King III have accused their brother of tarnishing their parents' legacy with his business decisions, and say he has been operating The King Estate for years without their input.
DreamWorks spokeswoman Kristin Stark declined to say how much the deal is worth. It is not clear when the movie might be made. Stark said she did not believe the siblings' legal differences would affect the project.
"What we have gained access to is the life rights, which is not what they are fighting about," Stark said.
Although several movies about King's life have been televised, the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize winner has only been on the silver screen once. The documentary, "King: A Filmed Record ... Montgomery to Memphis," was shown once in theaters on March 24, 1970, and featured commentary from Harry Belafonte, Sidney Poitier, Paul Newman, Joanne Woodward and Ruby Dee, among others.
Film and television producer Suzanne de Passe and Madison Jones, who has handled intellectual property issues for the estate for several years, are also listed as producers on the project.