The Madonna biopic that was to be directed by Madonna is no longer in development at Universal Pictures, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed. The news comes after the singer announced a massive world tour, although multiple sources say the movie was actually put in turnaround late last year, before the announcement of the tour.
Universal had no comment.
The project, which was first announced in 2020, was going to chronicle the singer’s career, which spans almost four decades and has gone far beyond music as she has made forays into art, movies, fashion and charity. She burst onto the 1980s music scene and established herself as the Queen of Pop with best-selling albums such as Like a Virgin, True Blue and Like a Prayer. She eventually segued into a career in Hollywood, including directing and starring in feature films.
As of last year, Julia Garner was the frontrunner to play Madonna after a long audition process that saw many young stars of a certain age — including Florence Pugh and Odessa Young — go out for the role. According to sources at the time, the hopefuls participated in intense — sometimes up to 11-hour-a-day — choreography sessions with Madonna’s choreographer, after which there were choreography sessions with Madonna herself. Callbacks consisted of readings with Madonna, as well as singing auditions with the superstar.
Amy Pascal was set to produce the movie, which was co-written by Secretary writer Erin Cressida Wilson and Madonna. (Diablo Cody was previously set to pen the project.)
Development was always a struggle for the movie. None of the many drafts of the scripts were ever under 180 pages, according to one source. That led to conversations about perhaps splitting the movie into two or perhaps making it into an event miniseries. “You have 40 years of success, and it’s very hard to put that into one movie,” said the source.
As for Madonna, she said at the time of the project’s announcement in 2020, “I want to convey the incredible journey that life has taken me on as an artist, a musician, a dancer — a human being, trying to make her way in this world.”
Variety first reported the news.