Steven Spielberg To Produce Martin Luther King Jr. Biopic

DreamWorks has secured rights to civil-rights leader's written works.

Over 40 years after Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated on a motel balcony in Memphis, Steven Spielberg and DreamWorks are getting set to produce a big screen biopic about the civil-rights leader's life, according to Variety.

To move forward with the picture, DreamWorks had to acquire King's life rights from his estate, because his speeches, books and other works were copyrighted while he was alive. The deal marks the first time that a film has been authorized by the estate. The film's producers will be able to utilize all of King's intellectual property, including his legendary "I Have a Dream" speech delivered at the August 1963 march on Washington and his final public address, "I've Been to the Mountaintop," delivered the day before he died.

"We are all honored that the King estate is giving us the opportunity to tell the story of these defining, historic events," Spielberg said. "It is our hope that the creative power of film and the impact of Dr. King's life can combine to present a story of undeniable power that we can all be proud of."

Martin' son, Dexter King, chairman and CEO of the King estate, said: The King estate is committed to working very closely with DreamWorks, [producers] Suzanne de Passe and Madison Jones to create the first major motion picture on the life of my father. We hope that this will be the definitive film on his life and legacy."

Spielberg has a long history of working with nonfictional material, including directing films about the Holocaust ("Schindler's List"), the American slave trade ("Amistad") and World War II ("Saving Private Ryan" and "Empire of the Sun"). No information was provided about a timetable for the MLK biopic.