Disney in Talks With Niki Caro to Direct Track Drama 'McFarland' (Exclusive)

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Niki Caro

The drama tells the true story of a coach living in the 1980s in a predominantly Latino town outside of Bakersfield, Calif.

Disney is getting ready to run circles around the competition.

The studio is developing the track team drama McFarland, and is in negotiations with Niki Caro to direct the project, which hails from Mayhem Pictures. Mayhem's Mark Ciardi and Gordon Gray are well-known in the inspirational sports genre, having produced movies such as Miracle, Invincible and Secretariat.

McFarland also falls in that true-story fold, telling the tale of a coach living in 1980s predominantly Latino McFarland, Calif., a small town outside of Bakersfield. The coach created a high school track team that overcame many social and physical hurdles to become champions.

The project, written by Grant Thompson, was set up at the studio in 2004.

Disney hopes to make the movie in the $20 million range, in the same arena as Prom, build a cast around a recognizable name and shoot next year.

Caro, repped buy ICM, Echo Lake Management and attorney Linda Lichter, is best known for directing 2002's Whale Rider and 2005's North Country. She is also developing a biopic centered around opera legend Maria Callas.