Variety says major film studios were in an "aggressive bidding war" for the rights.
James will have a role in the production of the film, working with his manager Maverick Carter, as well as "Dallas Buyers Club" producer Rachel Winter and her husband.
The Heat star has been making a foray into the entertainment world in recent months. Premium cable outlet Starz has picked up a half-hour comedy co-produced by James. He is also expected to star in a comedy film with Kevin Hart.
Who would play a young James? John Boyega, who is expected to star in the next "Star Wars" flick, is a rising star who could fit the bill and if Michael B. Jordan is still able to pull off the youthful look, he has plenty of experience in a sports role from his stellar acting on "Friday Night Lights."