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New England Patriots cornerback Malcolm Butler has been to two Super Bowls. Now, his life story is heading to the big screen.
Daniel Levin, who executive produced Lion and whose Narrative Capital developed that film, has acquired Butler’s life rights for a biopic titled The Secondary. Levin’s instincts have been sound: He obtained Lion subject Saroo Brierley’s rights after reading about him in Vanity Fair, and now the movie is up for six Oscars. Likewise, he saw promise in the story of an undrafted Butler, who just three years ago was running the fryolator at a Popeyes chicken joint when his agent, Derek Simpson, secured him a tryout with the Patriots. As a rookie in 2015, Butler made one of the most memorable plays in Super Bowl history when, in the game’s final seconds, he intercepted Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson’s pass at the goal line, ensuring New England’s victory.
Levin sees the film as a two-hander, having also scooped up the life rights of Simpson, a small-town lawyer who was handling Butler’s blossoming career while fighting a commercial-trucking goliath in court to get justice for a paralyzed teen. “Lion and The Secondary are against-all-odds stories of struggle and inspiration,” says Levin. “Derek would not stop until Malcolm got a chance.”
No distributor is attached, but New York-based Narrative also has another true-story movie in the works: the Richard Gere starrer Three Christs, about three paranoid schizophrenic patients who all believe they are Jesus Christ (it wrapped production in the fall).
This story first appeared in the Feb. 24 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
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