A Dr. Dre-produced Marvin Gaye biopic is on the way.
Dr. Dre is getting ready to produce the largest ever financed African American music biopic. According to the media site Deadline, Dr. Dre is expected to produce the upcoming Marvin Gaye biopic entitled “What’s Going On.” The movie, which is being made by Warner Bros, reportedly has a budget of over $80 million, the most ever for a movie of this nature featuring an African-American artist.
Jimmy Iovine, the Interscope Records founder, is also sharing production responsibilities along with Andrew Lazar. Allen Hughes is expected to direct. He is part of the Hughes brothers duo best known for directing the iconic movie “Menace II Society.” Hughes also wrote and directed the 2017 HBO series “The Defiant Ones,” which was about the careers of Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine. He’s also said to be working on a five-part FX docuseries called Dear Mama about 2Pac and his mother, Afeni Shakur.
Reports also indicate that the Marvin Gaye estate and Motown Records have given their blessing to the upcoming production and Gaye’s widow Jan Gaye is expected to retain an executive producer position alongside Suzanne de Passe. Even though casting hasn’t been finished yet and no one has been picked to play Gaye, the film is expected in theatres and HBO Max in 2023. Production is set to begin in 2022.
Hughes shared that the movie had sentimental value to him.
“This is so personal for me. 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,” he said.
He added that he felt a special connection with the late “Mercy Mecry Me” singer.
“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,” he explained.
He added: “When you listen, in one measure you feel like you’ve read a novel. Such a rich inner life in that voice, heavenly but riddled with pain, the agony and ecstasy at the same time. When he gained his independence in the ’70s, with that album What’s Going On, then Trouble Man and Let’s Get It On, I Want You and his final masterpiece Here, My Dear, when it comes to vocal orchestrations and the way he layered his voice, he’s Mozart.”
According to the write-up for the movie, it will: “create a musical odyssey and theatrical experience around the life of one of America’s greatest singers and musicians.” “What’s Going On” will follow the events that shaped the events of Marvin Gaye’s last tour and will also focus on his relationship with his father and the women who influenced his music.