June 10, 2023


EXCLUSIVE: Will Ferrell is in huddling to star as the NFL’s John Madden in Madden, a theatrical feature to be directed for Amazon/MGM by five-time Oscar nominee David O. Russell (American Hustle), multiple sources tell Deadline.

Amazon had no comment.

The project has been percolating for some time. It is based on a Black List script by Cambron Clark, and Russell had been doing a rewrite when everything stopped with the writer’s strike.

A Prime Video Sports Original, Madden tells the story of one of the larger-than-life personalities to grace an NFL sideline. All Madden ever wanted was to be a head coach and he was one of the best ever. After winning the Super Bowl, the stress of the job began to destroy him. It forced him away from his dream job, and the film focuses on his friendship with Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis, and how Madden found a second act that made him far more famous. He continued his passion for teaching X’s and O’s in different ways. He redefined the notion of the football broadcaster with an outsized personality that led to a big endorsement career for Lite Beer from Miller, Tinactin and other products. Although he’d never played a video game in his life, Madden helped changed the videogame landscape when he became the figurehead for Madden NFL, a perennial top seller that this fall gets its 24th incarnation through Electronic Arts.

RELATED: John Madden Dies: NFL Coach, Longtime Broadcaster & Video Game Namesake Was 85

Madden is produced by Escape Artists’ Todd Black, Jonathan Shukat, Jason Blumenthal and Steve Tisch. Latter is the co-owner of the New York Giants, and the expectation is that the NFL will embrace the feature film on one of the sport’s most beloved figures.

Ferrell has most recently been seen in two high-profile projects from Apple TV+: the popular holiday musical comedy Spirited and the miniseries The Shrink Next Door. He plays a Mattel CEO in the Greta Gerwig-directed Warner Bros pic Barbie, out July 21st, and voices the Border Terrier Reggie in Universal’s R-rated comedy Strays, due August 18th. Among other upcoming projects for the multi-hyphenate — who has recently produced Searchlight’s Sundance acquisition Theater Camp and the Cannes-premiering romantic drama May December, just swooped up by Netflix in a rare North America-only deal — is the Prime Video comedy You’re Cordially Invited, which will have him sharing the screen with Reese Witherspoon.

Russell is coming off Amsterdam and Joy, and prior to that wrote and directed American Hustle, which scored 10 Oscar nominations, and Silver Linings Playbook, which brought Jennifer Lawrence her first win. Also coming up for the filmmaker is Super Toys, starring Sacha Baron Cohen and Keke Palmer, which he will direct from his own script.

Ferrell is repped by UTA, Mosaic and Jackoway Austen Tyerman; Russell by CAA and Gang, Tyre, Ramer; and Clark by CAA and Epicenter.





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