After spending the early years of his career building equity with quality turns in smaller films, Anthony Mackie has been able to cash in and find mainstream success with his role as Falcon in Captain America: The Winter Soldier as well as his brilliant performance in the Oscar-winning film, The Hurt Locker.
Though not easy, Mackie has earned every bit his current success. Mackie’s new visibility due to his Marvel film role came at the right time, giving his long simmering, passion project— a biopic about historic athlete and Olympian Jesse Owens— a chance to take flight after several failed attempts.
Owens is certainly worthy of cinematic recognition. He won four gold medals during the 1936 Olympics, destroying Hitler’s delusion of the athletic dominance of the Aryan race. Owens’ triumph in Berlin, Germany is the pinnacle of athletic achievement. Owens’ story and Mackie’s visibility made it an easy decision for Relativity Media to acquire the project in March of this year, with an eye toward starting production in the fall. But sadly, this is no longer the case.
Relativity Media filed for bankruptcy this past week, leaving lots of projects slated to begin production in purgatory. However, Mackie’s Jesse Owens project is one of the fortunate few to flee the sinking ship, pulling out in the 11th hour and avoiding being wrapped up in prolonged legal battles spawned by the company’s bankruptcy.
While Mackie’s passion project may have a chance to fly again via another distributor, time is a major factor because there are already reportedly several films about Owens floating down the movie pipeline, including one called Race, which is slated for an April 2016 release. A film about Owens would be timely to premier next summer, in time for the 2016 Olympic games, which will mark 80 years since Owen had his historic moment on the track.
Mackie, who is slated to produce the Owen’s biopic should it find a new distribution home, has a lot of similarities to the legendary track star—namely, his perseverance. Outside of his defining moment, Owens was not given special privileges. Despite is talent and reputation as the “Buckeye Bullet” at The Ohio State University, he could not live on campus nor receive a scholarship because he was Black. Owens stellar representation of his country abroad was not reciprocated at home— President Franklin D. Roosevelt never acknowledged him. However, time has redeemed Jesse Owens.
Let’s just hope that time redeems Mackie’s intentions of getting Owens’ story onto the big screen with a new distribution home in time for the 2016 Summer Olympics.