It makes sense for Legendary to option the hi-profile historical sports biopic of the legendary Vince Lombardi. Thomas Tull, a principal at Legendary is also a partial owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the company also had a big winner in this year’s historical sports film 42. White-hot J.C. Chandor (Margin Call, All Is Lost) has been tapped to write and direct.
Chandor is somewhat legendary himself. There is nothing fancy about him and he comes straight at you – just like the Lombardi-coached Packers defense in 1960. J.C.’s directorial debut was the somewhat underviewed but critically a acclaimed Margin Call, starring Kevin Spacey and Stanley Tucci as key players in a large Wall Street investment bank in the early stages of the 2007-2008 financial crisis. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and won the Independent Spirit Award for Best Feature and the Robert Altman Award. Margin Call also nabbed the National Board of Review’s Best Directing Debut and the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best First Film. Chandor is currently garnering plenty of Oscar Buzz for his follow-up film All Is Lost starring Robert Redford as a sole sailor trying to survive an open sea catastrophe.
Vince Lombardi is one of the most revered coaches in Football history, taking the close to defunct Green Bay Packers from last place to a world championship game in just two years. They lost that game, but subsequently won five NFL Championships and the first two Super Bowls. Lombardi’s name adorns the Super Bowl Trophy. Legendary has secured rights from the Lombardi estate, as well as the rights to Eric Simonson’s play Lombardi/The Only Thing and David Marannis’ book When Pride Still Mattered.
At one point Robert De Niro was considering starring in another Lombardi biopic. He would have been producing with Jane Rosenthal and Tribeca Films, as well as the NFL and ESPN. Eric Roth has already penned the script, but rumor has it that Di Nero has stepped out of the starring role causing the project to grow cold.
Chandor is presently casting his third feature, A Most Violent Year.