According to Deadline, Dr. Dre will produce Warner Bros.’ forthcoming Marvin Gaye movie What’s Going On.
Jimmy Iovine, the founder of Interscope Records, is also producing alongside Andrew Lazar, with Allen Hughes, one half of the Hughes Brothers, serving as director. He’s most known as a team for directing the iconic West Coast film Menace II Society, which starred Jada Pinkett Smith, Samuel L. Jackson, MC Eiht, and Too $hort.
What’s Going On is slated to be the highest budget ever for an African American music biopic, with a budget of excess of $80 million. The estate of Marvin Gaye and Motown Records are also on board, with Jan Gaye, the singer’s widow, serving as executive producer with Suzanne de Passe.
Although no actor has been cast to portray Gaye as of yet, filming is expected to begin in 2022, with the film premiering in cinemas and on HBO Max in 2023.
“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.
“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.”
He added, “You’ve heard of all these big-name directors that have tried for 35 years to consolidate these rights. 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.”
What’s Going On is stated to “create a musical odyssey and theatrical experience around the life of one of America’s greatest singers and musicians,” with the film presenting stories from Marvin Gaye’s farewell tour. It will also explore Gaye’s connection with his father as well as the women who impacted his music.
Allen Hughes previously wrote and directed The Defiant Ones, a 2017 HBO series on Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine’s careers. He’s also embarking on a five-part FX docuseries on 2Pac and his mother, Afeni Shakur, called Dear Mama.