Angelina Jolie steps down from directing movie on Richard Leakey which was set to star Brad Pitt

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Angelina Jolie is giving Brad Pitt full custody of a film the two have spent years trying to get into production.

The couple were set to start work on the film Africa some time next year, a $110million biopic about acclaimed archaeologist Dr. Richard Leakey, who is also a noted conservationist dedicated to putting an end to elephant poaching.

Jolie was set to direct and Pitt to star, but a new report claims that the actress turned director has stepped away from the project. 

The film has been in pre-production for years now, with creative differences between Jolie and the production company about the story and funding leading to numerous delays since the project was first announced back in 2014.

Africa was initially set to go into production after Jolie and Pitt wrapped on By The Sea, the couple’s highly anticipated second collaboration together after Mr. and Mrs. Smith which ultimately turned out to be a flop with both critics and audiences.

‘This movie has been a nightmare to get off the ground from the beginning. Until the last few weeks Angelina was resolute in her intent to get it made but now she doesn’t want to direct it at all,’ a source close to producer Jon Peters, who was working on the film, told Heat Street.

‘Brad Pitt was still interested in acting in the movie — for him it was Seven Years in Tibet set in Africa and he wasn’t ready to give up on it. But Angelina now doesn’t want to have any kind of relationship with him, personal or professional.’

Deadline reported back in April that in addition to money problems, Jolie was having issues with some of the suggestions being made by Skydance Productions, the company producing the film.

Most notably, they wanted the film to have more of a love story, something that Jolie reportedly scoffed at because it was not the film she had in mind when telling Leakey’s story.

Leakey’s discovery of a Homo rudolfensis skull (KNM ER 1470) and a Homo erectus skull (KNM ER 3733) in the seventies were among the most significant finds of his expeditions.

He is also credited for raising global awareness on elephant poaching in East Africa in the Eighties.

Leakey spoke about the film in an interview last November, and his hopes that Jolie would make a picture that he could see with his grandchildren.

He noted that in a revised script there was less sex and action.

The film had been written by Oscar-winner Eric Roth, who won an Oscar for adapting Forrest Gump and wrote the screenplay for Pitt’s 2008 film The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.