A highly anticipated Madonna biopic, directed by the singer herself and starring Ozark actress Julia Garner, has been dropped.
The film, which had been in development since 2020 with Universal Pictures and had the working title Little Sparrow, was set to chronicle Madonna’s four-decade career spanning music, film and fashion.
According to a report from Variety on Tuesday, Universal pulled out after Madonna announced a world tour last week — a tour that encompasses its entire catalog and sold out its dates in New York, Paris and London within minutes.
But anonymous insiders told The Hollywood Reporter that the film’s cancellation was decided late last year, long before the tour was announced.
There was no comment from Universal, nor from representatives of Madonna or Garner.
The biopic had created a lot of frenzy online due to its grueling casting process, known as the “Madonna bootcamp”: 11 hours of choreography, plus readings and singing auditions in front of Madonna and her casting director.
Before Garner landed the role, young stars — including Florence Pugh, Euphoria breakout Alexa Demie, and pop musicians Bebe Rexha and Sky Ferreira — were being considered. Oscar-winning screenwriter Diablo Cody was once attached to write the screenplay. Cody and Madonna appeared together in an Instagram Live in late 2020, participating in an unconventional live writing session.
A second draft of the script was then completed by Madonna with Erin Cressida Wilson, best known for her screenwriting work on Secretary and The Girl on the Train.
Sources told Variety that Madonna is still determined to make the film, despite Universal pulling out.
“I want to convey the incredible journey that life has taken me as an artist, a musician, a dancer – a human being, trying to find my way in this world,” the singer said in 2020. “There has so many incalculable and inspiring stories and who better than me to tell them.
“It is essential to share the roller coaster of my life with my voice and my vision.”
Madonna has two productions under her belt: the provocative comedy-drama Filth and Wisdom, and WE, a time-hopping romance about King Edward VIII.