It’s an unwritten rule in Hollywood: every few years, a major studio must – must! – make a movie about a chess prodigy. I’m not sure why: maybe the film industry has been in the pocket of Big Chess for decades. But Bleeker Street made Pawn Sacrifice in 2014, Disney made Queen of Katwe in 2016, and now Paramount Pictures is the next studio to abide by the rule, because they’re currently developing an untitled movie about an 8-year-old chess champion that’s going to be produced by The Daily Show host Trevor Noah. Get the details below.
According to Variety, Paramount is teaming with producers George Tillman Jr. (The Hate U Give, Faster), Bob Teitel (Barbershop, Mudbound), and Trevor Noah to produce a movie about “a Nigerian family that escaped terrorism in their home country, sought and received asylum in America, and — against all odds — found a welcoming new home in New York. Living in a homeless center on religious asylum, their 8-year-old son, Tani, won the 2019 New York State chess championship, despite only being introduced to the game two years prior.”
Three separate books about this topic are set to be published this spring, and all three will be used as the basis for a screenplay written by Steve Conrad. He has previously created shows like Amazon’s Patriot and Epix’s Perpetual Grace, LTD, and has written the screenplays for films like The Weather Man, The Pursuit of Happyness, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, and Wonder. As evidenced by those credits, he’s able to take occasionally sappy material and make it palatable, which seems to jibe with the requirements of an uplifting biopic like this.
No director, start date, or actor is in place yet. In addition to his duties on The Daily Show, Noah is also reportedly adapting his memoir, “Born a Crime: Stories From a South African Childhood,” into a movie for Paramount Players. That film will star Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o, who starred in Disney’s underseen chess movie Queen of Katwe. That’s one of the best sports dramas to come out in the past few years and is on Disney+ now, so if you find yourself with some extra time on your hands, maybe add it to your queue if you skipped it the first time around.
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