Allen Hughes is attached to direct the biopic on Marvin Gaye, What’s Going On for Warner Bros.
Poet/playwright Marcus Gardley penned the biopic which was acquired by the studio and with the blessing of the late singer’s estate. Motown is also a part of the deal, which will allow the film rights to use all of Gaye’s signature songs.
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According to Deadline, What’s Going On, has the biggest budget of any music biopic about a Black person. Warner Bros greenlight a budget north of $80 million. Hughes will also produce the project alongside Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine. Andrew Lazar will produce. The singer’s widow Jan Gaye is an executive producer along with Suzanne de Passe.
The biopic will tell the story of Gaye’s past with events that helped shape his infamous last tour. It will depict the tumultuous relationship he had with his father as well as celebrate the women in Gaye’s life who influenced his career and were the inspiration behind some his music. The film also affirms how his music was integral to popular culture for three decades running. What’s Going On not only addresses the demons that haunted Marvin, it is a thrilling tribute to an icon whose music changed the world.
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“This is so personal for me,” Hughes told Deadline.
“When I made my first film with my brother, we were fortunate to get What’s Going On into the trailer for Menace 2 Society, and it was a game changer in elevating the marketing of that film — I’ve just always connected to him. He’s the artist’s artist, with this ethereal voice that just comes out of the heavens.”
This is not the first time there has been a Marvin Gaye biopic in the works. But none have ever finished telling Gaye’s story.
“You’ve heard of all these big name directors that have tried for 35 years to consolidate these rights,” Hughes continued about getting the rights to Gaye’s music. “This started with Dre, saying let’s do this together, and then Jimmy came on, and Andrew Lazar, and we worked with the estate, with Motown and some other things that needed to be tied down, and we got it done.”
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As of now, they are actively looking for an actor to portray Gaye. Production on What’s Going On will begin next year and it will be released in 2023.