The Madonna biopic that was to be directed by Madonna is no longer in development at Universal Pictures, The Hollywood Reporter confirmed. The news comes after the singer announced a massive world tour, though multiple sources claim the film was actually set late last year before the tour was announced.
Universal had no comment.
The project, which was first announced in 2020, would chronicle the singer’s career, which spans nearly four decades and has gone far beyond music as she has made inroads into the art, film, fashion and charity. She burst onto the 1980s music scene and established herself as the queen of pop with hit albums such as Like a Virgo, True Blue and like a prayer. She eventually embarked on a career in Hollywood, including directing and acting in feature films.
Since last year, Julia Garner has been the favorite to play Madonna after a lengthy audition process that saw many young stars of a certain age – including Florence Pugh and Odessa Young – come out for the role. According to sources at the time, the hopefuls participated in intense choreography sessions – sometimes up to 11 hours a day – with Madonna’s choreographer, after which there were choreography sessions with Madonna herself. The encores consisted of readings with Madonna, as well as singing auditions with the superstar.
Amy Pascal was to produce the film, which was co-written by secretary writer Erin Cressida Wilson and Madonna. (Diablo Cody was previously expected to pen the project.)
Development has always been a struggle for the film. None of the many drafts of the scripts were ever shorter than 180 pages, according to one source. This led to conversations about possibly splitting the movie into two or maybe making it an event miniseries. “You have 40 years of success, and it’s very difficult to put that into one movie,” the source said.
As for Madonna, she said when the project was announced in 2020: “I want to convey the incredible journey that life has taken me as an artist, a musician, a dancer – a human being, trying to blaze a trail in this world.”
The variety reported the news for the first time.