Jason Sudeikis has joined Jeremy Irons and Stephan James in the true story of the Olympic legend. Focus acquired US rights in a deal with world sales agent Mister Smith Entertainment.
Director Stephen Hopkins is scheduled to begin principal photography on July 24 in Montreal and on location at the Olympic Stadium in Berlin.
Square One will distribute in Germany and is a co-producer. eOne will release Race in Canada.
Owens claimed a record-breaking four Olympic gold medals at the 1936 Games in Germany, much to the chagrin of German Chancellor Adolph Hitler and his cohorts who had intended the event to be a showcase of Aryan supremacy.
The project has the support of the Owens family, the Jesse Owens Foundation, the Jesse Owens Trust and the Luminary Group.
Sudeikis will play Owens’ obsessive coach and mentor Larry Snyder, while Irons will portray Avery Brundage, head of the American Olympic committee who fought to stage the Games in Berlin.
Anna Waterhouse and Joe Shrapnel wrote the screenplay and producers are Jean Charles Lévy for Forecast Pictures, Luc Dayan for ID+, Kate Garwood and Hopkins for Totally Commercial Films, Louis-Philippe Rochon and Dominique Séguin for Canada’s Solofilms and Karsten Brünig and Thierry Potok for Germany’s Trinity Race.
“We are proud to be the US distributor of the inspirational story of Jesse Owens – a sports hero who exemplified perseverance, courage and grace, and whose story will resonate with audiences of all generations,” said Focus CEO Peter Schlessel.
“I’m excited we’ve assembled such an impressive cast to tell this extraordinary story,” said Hopkins.
Mister Smith Entertainment CEO David Garrett added, “This was a story waiting to be made for nearly 80 years. The production team have done an incredible job of bringing this all together and we are thrilled to be partnered with Focus as they have shown real passion and vision for the project.”
Executive producers include Christopher Charlier, Ben Grass, Scott Kennedy, Bonnie Timmermann, George Acogny, Nicolas Manuel, Jonathan Bronfman, and Al Munteanu.