“Shazam!” star Zachary Levi is set to star as two-time NFL MVP and Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner in the biopic “American Underdog: The Kurt Warner Story,” it was announced Wednesday by Kingdom Story Company and Lionsgate.
“I Still Believe” directors Jon Erwin and Andrew Erwin are directing the sports biopic “American Underdog” that will be distributed wide by Lionsgate and that expects to begin production later this year.
“American Underdog” is Levi’s next project, and the drama chronicles the true story of Warner, who went from stocking shelves at a supermarket to becoming a Super Bowl MVP.
The Erwin brothers are also producing through their Kingdom Story banner. David Aaron Cohen of “Friday Night Lights” fame wrote the film along with the Erwin brothers based on interviews with Warner as well as his own memoir, “All Things Possible: My Story of Faith, Football and the First Miracale Season.”
Mark Ciardi (“Invincible,” “The Rookie”) is producing. “American Underdog” is also produced by Kevin Downes. Kurt Warner and Brenda Warner will also co-produce.
“Kurt’s story is one of relentless faith – in his own abilities but even more so in a higher power,” Levi said in a statement. “When I read Kurt’s story, I identified with the quiet strength he found to persevere – that’s something I think anybody can recognize in their own lives. This is the kind of underdog story that sports movies are all about, and the fact that it’s true makes it even more special. I’m thrilled to be part of bringing his story to audiences.”
“Zachary was our first and only choice,” Jon Erwin said in a statement. “He brings a combination of humble charm and charisma as well as an intense physicality to the role. For our last several films, we have brought inspiring real life stories to the big screen and there is something magnificent and magical to Kurt’s rise as a champion.”
“This is about an everyman who never let his dream die. Zachary was born to play this role – and when you add in his uncanny resemblance to Kurt Warner, we’re thrilled to be working with him,” Andrew Erwin said in a statement.
Kingdom Story Company, which is behind the faith-based music biopics “I Still Believe” and “I Can Only Imagine,” have a long-term deal with Lionsgate, and “American Underdog” is the third film greenlit by the studio in the last 12 months under that arrangement.
The Erwin brothers’ most recent film “I Still Believe” about singer Jeremy Camp was their first under that deal with Lionsgate, and the film grossed $10.5 million worldwide in early March before the pandemic hit and was then released on PVOD.
Jim Miller and Chelsea Kujawa are overseeing the film for Lionsgate. Phil Strina oversaw the negotiation on behalf of the studio.
Levi was recently seen in “Shazam!” and in “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel,” and he recently wrapped production on Kevin MacDonald’s “Prisoner 760” opposite Jodie Foster and Benedict Cumberbatch. He’s also set to star in “Under Cover” also from Lionsgate opposite Cole Sprouse.
Levi is represented by UTA, Untitled, and McKuin Frankel.