A long-awaited Madonna biopic directed by the singer herself and starring Ozark actress 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 to chronicle Madonna’s four-decade career spanning music, cinema and fashion.
According to a Variety report Tuesday, Universal pulled out after Madonna announced a global tour last week — one that spans her entire catalog 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 or from representatives for Madonna or Garner.
The biopic had caused much online frenzy due to its grueling casting process, 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 took the role, young stars—including Florence Pugh, Euphoria breakout Alexa Demie, and pop musicians Bebe Rexha and Sky Ferreira—were considered. Oscar-winning screenwriter Diablo Cody was once attached to write the screenplay. Cody and Madonna appeared together in an Instagram live in late 2020 and participated in an unconventional live writing session.
A second draft of the script was then completed by Madonna alongside 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 find his way in this world,” the singer said in 2020. “There are so many countless and inspiring stories, and who better to tell than me.
“It’s important to share the roller coaster ride of my life with my voice and vision.”
Madonna has two directorial credits to her name: the provocative comedy-drama Filth and Wisdom and WE, a time-hopping romance about King Edward VIII.