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Madonna biopic shelved after announcement of world tour

The pop legend was due to direct, with Julia Garner starring

By Joe Goggins

Madonna press shot, 2023
Madonna plays four sold-out shows at London's O2 in October. (Photo: Ricardo Gomes)

The long-mooted Madonna biopic, which was set to star Julia Garner and be directed by the pop star herself, has been shelved.

The film had been in development at Universal under the working title Little Sparrow since 2020. Madonna herself had been slated to helm the movie, having previously occupied the director’s chair for the 2008 comedy-drama Filth and Wisdom and the 2011 romantic drama W.E.

The casting process, meanwhile, had been the subject of feverish online speculation, with Garner understood to have been offered the role after the likes of Florence Pugh, Odessa Young, Alexa Demie and Emma Laird had also been considered. Hopefuls were reportedly put through their paces in a “Madonna bootcamp” that involved 11-hour dance sessions with the singer’s choreographer, as well as further dance, singing and reading sessions with the star herself.

The script had initially been set to be co-written by Madonna and Diablo Cody, who won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for Juno. The pair participated in a live writing session on Instagram in late 2020. The singer then penned a second draft in collaboration with Erin Cressida Wilson, known for her work on Secretary and The Girl on the Train. Now, though, the film has reportedly been scrapped, hot on the heels of Madonna’s announcement that she will undertake an extensive world tour to celebrate her four decades at the top of the pop world.

According to Variety, though, unnamed sources say that the cancellation of the film had been decided on in late 2022, before the announcement of the tour. There has been no official comment from Madonna, Universal or Garner, although sources said that the singer remains committed to picking up the project with another backer at some point in the future.

The Celebration Tour will take her across North America through July, August, September and October, before it transfers to Europe later that month. Madonna plays four sold-out UK dates on the run, all at London’s O2 Arena – you can see them below.

Madonna, October 2023:

14 – London, The O2 Arena

15 – London, The O2 Arena

17 – London, The O2 Arena

18 – London, The O2 Arena