Kenya Barris-Produced Documentary 'Blood Brothers: Malcolm X & Muhammad Ali' Will Head To Netflix

"I want to do in-your-face s**t." This is the quote that accompanied headlines about Kenya Barris's departure from Netflix. In a desire to tell edgier, more diverse stories, the creator of Black-ish and co-creator (with Larry Wilmore) of its spin-off Grown-ish had walked away from a multiyear, multimillion-dollar deal with the streamer to help launch BET Studios. He hasn't completely severed ties with Netflix, however. In fact, his name, as a producer, is now linked to a new Netflix documentary film.

As its title implies, Blood Brothers: Malcolm X & Muhammad Ali will explore the real-life friendship between the influential civil rights activist, Malcolm X, and the boxing legend, Muhammad Ali, three-time heavyweight champion of the world.

Earlier this week, we brought you the details on a television series that Malcolm X's daughter, Ilyasah Shabazz, is developing for Sony based on her father's life. Now, comes the news of this new Netflix documentary, Blood Brothers, produced by Barris. The Wrap reports:

The film is called "Blood Brothers: Malcolm X & Muhammad Ali," and it's inspired by a book by Randy Roberts and Johnny Smith. It will incorporate never-before-seen archival footage of the two iconic figures, and it will debut on Netflix on Sept. 9.

Barris also co-wrote Coming 2 America, the most-watched streaming movie since the pandemic began (as of March 2021, at least). Marcus A. Clarke handles the directing duties for Blood Brothers.

Clarke's credits include directing three episodes of Netflix's Unsolved Mysteries reboot, including the first (and still best) episode, "Mystery on the Rooftop," which explored the real-life case of Rey Rivera, a man who seemingly leaped, or was somehow thrown, to his death from the roof of Baltimore's historic Belvedere Hotel. Theorists have speculated that Rivera was acting out The Game, David Fincher's 1997 thriller, due to the fact that he mentioned the movie along with similar titles like The Matrix in a cryptic note he left behind.

But that's neither here nor there. Speaking of hotels in big cities ...

Beyond One Night in Miami

Regina King's outstanding Amazon Original Movie, One Night in Miami, adapted by Kemp Powers from his stage play of the same name, brought attention earlier this year to the friendship between Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali. The film depicted their relationship at a time when Malcolm (Kingsley Ben-Adir) was preparing to leave the Nation of Islam, while Ali (Eli Goree, his character still going by the name Cassius Clay at this point) was preparing to join it.

As they gathered in a Miami hotel room with legendary soul singer Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.) and football great Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge), the film explored the tensions between Malcolm and Cooke, the latter of whom had yet to record his stirring anthem, "A Change Is Gonna Come."

Blood Brothers is going the documentary route, of course, but the recent influx of movies and TV shows centered on Malcolm X almost makes it feel like we're witnessing the birth of a Malcolm X shared universe in Hollywood. Bring it on, I say. While rewatching Spike Lee's epic 1992 Malcolm X biopic recently, I was gutted to hear Cooke's "A Change Is Gonna Come" toward the end. Knowing the background behind that song, some of which was dramatized in One Night in Miami, informed its appearance in Malcolm X with a newfound poignancy. It was always there ... I just didn't appreciate the history behind it.

Blood Brothers promises to inform One Night in Miami the same way: showing the full breadth of their friendship outside that one fictional night in a Miami hotel room. The film hits Netflix on September 9, 2021.