Madonna's life story was headed to the big screen—but it seems plans have stalled. In September 2020, Universal Pictures confirmed that a biopic about the pop superstar is in the works, with Madonna directing and co-writing the film. But in late January 2023, reports broke that the plan is on hold while the superstar goes on tour.
While we wait for more updates, we've rounded up what we know about the Madonna biopic so far.
What happened to the Madonna biopic?
On January 24, Variety reported citing multiple sources that the movie was no longer in production at Universal Pictures. The news arrived shortly after Madonna announced her massive Celebration Tour, which would run from July 15 to December 1, 2023.
Insiders said the outlet that the tour is Madonna's leading focus right now, but she's dedicated to directing a movie about her life eventually.
“I want to convey the amazing journey that life has taken me on as an artist, a musician, a dancer – a human being, trying to create her way in this world,” said Madonna in a press release when the biopic was first announced. “It’s necessary to share the roller coaster ride of my life with my voice and vision.”
What's the plot of the film?
Most of the details are sowever under wraps. However, we do know that the script is said to conclude with Madonna's 1990 Blonde Ambition World Tour, per The Hollywood Reporter. That tour solidified Madge's status as a pop culture icon for decades to come.
Jennifer's Body writer Diablo Cody collaborated with Madonna on a draft of the script, but Cody has since completed her work on the film. As of 2021, screenwriter Erin Cressida Wilson joined the production—and according to Madonna's Instagram in December 2021, the duo seemed to sowever be working on the screenplay at the time. Wilson wrote the 2016 thriller The Girl on the Train. She's also behind the script for Disney's live-action Snow White remake.
Who's in the cast?
Emmy-winning actress Julia Garner of Ozark and Inventing Anna was offered the part of Madonna, according to Variety.
Florence Pugh, Alexa Demie, Barbie Ferreira, and Sydney Sweeney were among the other actresses who competed to play Madonna. The process involved an intense “Madonna Bootcamp” consisting of choreography and singing auditions, some of which were attended by the songstress herself.
Julia Fox was eyed for a supporting role in the film. Per Entertainment Weekly, the Uncut Gems star could portray one of Madonna's close friends, actress Debi Mazar.
What is the film's title?
The biopic's working title appeared to be Little Sparrow. In February 2022, Madonna shared an Instagram post with the film's script. She finally deleted and re-posted the photo with a heart emoji covering the title, so there's a possibility it could change.
Is this Madonna's directorial debut?
Madge is no stranger to the director's chair. She helmed the 2008 comedy Filth & Wisdom, as well as the 2011 historical drama about King Edward VII and Wallis Simpson's love affair, W.E., which received an Oscar nomination for Best Achievement in Costume Design.
Has a movie about Madonna been made before?
News about a possible biopic broke in 2017. The Hollywood Reporter announced that Universal picked up a script entitled Blond Ambition, which followed Madonna's rise to fame after moving to New York City in the 1980s. Elyse Hollander penned the script, with Michael De Luca (Fifty Shades of Grey) and Brett Ratner (War Dogs) slated to produce. In an Instagram post, Madonna voiced her distaste for the project. “Nobody knows what I know and what I have seen. Only I can tell my story,” she said.
In 2021, she indicated that this wasn't Hollywood's first attempt at a Madonna film. She said Jimmy Fallon, “The reason I’m doing it is because a bunch of individuals have tried to write movies about me, but they’re always men.” She also referenced the failed 2017 project, saying, “I read that Universal was doing a script… they wanted my blessing, and I read it. It was the most hideous, superficial crap I’ve ever read. This has happened a couple of times. So, finally, I just threw down the gauntlet.”
This story has been updated.