A much-anticipated Madonna biopic, directed by the singer herself and starring the Ozark actor Julia Garner, has been scrapped.
The film, which had been in development since 2020 with Universal Pictures and had the working title Little Sparrow, was set to chronicle Madonna’s four-decade career spanning music, cinema and fashion.
According to a Variety report on Tuesday, Universal pulled out after Madonna’s announcement of a global tour last week – one that encompasses her entire catalogue and sold out its dates in New York, Paris and London within minutes.
But unnamed insiders told the Hollywood Reporter that the film’s cancellation had been decided late last year, long before the tour was announced.
There has been no comment from Universal, nor from representatives for Madonna or Garner.
The biopic had created much online frenzy due to its gruelling casting process, which came to be known as “Madonna bootcamp”: 11-hour days of choreography, as well as readings and singing auditions in front of Madonna and her casting director.
Before Garner clinched the role, young stars – including Florence Pugh, Euphoria breakout Alexa Demie and the pop musicians Bebe Rexha and Sky Ferreira – were considered. The Oscar-winning screenwriter Diablo Cody was once attached to pen the screenplay. Cody and Madonna appeared together in an Instagram live in late 2020, participating in an unconventional live writing session.
A second draft of the script was then completed by Madonna with Erin Cressida Wilson, best known for her screenwriting work on Secretary and The Girl on the Train.
Sources told Variety that Madonna is still committed to making the film, despite Universal pulling out.
“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,” the singer said in 2020. “There are so many untold and inspiring stories and who better to tell it than me.
“It’s essential to share the rollercoaster ride of my life with my voice and vision.”
Madonna has two directing credits to her name: the provocative comedy-drama Filth and Wisdom, and W.E., a time-hopping romance about King Edward VIII.