Dr. Dre, Allen Hughes, and Jimmy Iovine are teaming up for a Marvin Gaye biopic.
On Thursday, Warner Bros. landed exclusive rights to What’s Going On, a biopic based on the life of soul singer Marvin Gaye. Allen Hughes will direct the film, which will be written by Marcus Gardley and produced by Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine. Deadline spoke with Hughes as they first reported the story.
“This is so personal for me,” Hughes said. “When I made my first film with my brother, we were fortunate to get “What’s Going On” into the trailer for Menace II Society, and it was a game changer in elevating the marketing of that film. Every film of mine but the period film From Hell had some Marvin Gaye in it, and I’ve just always connected to him. He’s the artist’s artist, with this ethereal voice that just comes out of the heavens. There have been plenty of great artists, and then Marvin, in his own lane.”
The Marvin Gaye estate has approved of the film, which was reportedly sold for $80 million. According to Deadline, that number is the highest ever for an African-American musical biopic. A star hasn’t been picked yet, but the producers are aiming for a “musical odyssey and theatrical experience around the life of one of America’s greatest singers and musicians.”
“Marvin’s voice is so singular that 90% of it has to be the real guy, but hopefully we can find an actor who can tie it up with ligamental scenes, and live stuff where you do a blend,” Hughes continued. “But mostly I want to honor that singular voice, and I don’t want to mimic it. But there are techniques I’ve been exploring audio-wise in live performance and recording in the studio. I’ve taken all those multi-tracks apart with Dr. Dre and it has revealed a lot, but we don’t want to play any tricks with what is probably the purest voice of all time.”