Biopics covering iconic musicians have always been potential Oscar bait to Hollywood (see “Ray” with Jamie Foxx), but ever since the Oscar-winning Queen movie “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Straight Outta Compton, based on the iconic rap group N.W.A., became major box office hits, the trend to get new ones up and running has gone into overdrive. Now, a Marvin Gaye biopic has been in the works for years, but since the aforementioned reinterest from audiences, a drama of the legendary soul singer’s life is finally coming to the screen.
Warner Bros. is looking to make a new film covering the life and tragic death of the beloved singer. The studio has enlisted help from director Allen Hughes to helm “What’s Going On,” according to Deadline. The latest incarnation is based on a script from playwright/poet Marcus Gardley, who is behind the studios’ musical version of “The Color Purple.”
Warner Bros. evidently hopes to release the drama in 2023 with a hybrid release heading to both theaters and HBO Max with a hefty budget of $80 million (licensing those songs won’t come for free, apparently).
While we imagine there will be lots of heartwarming moments with his involvement with the era-defining Motown movement, it will also have to explore the dark side of his life, given that Marvin Gaye’s life was tragically cut short after he was shot and killed by his father.
For years, rock writer and rock-centric director Cameron Crowe tried to mount a Marvin Gaye biopic under the same title, but clearly, that never came to pass, and he has no involvement in this new version.
“What’s Going On” has a producing team with Dr. Dre, Interscope Records mogul Jimmy Iovine, and Andrew Lazar. Hughes’ body of work as a director runs the gauntlet of various genres with projects such as “Menace II Society,” “Dead Presidents,” the Alan Moore comic book adaptation “From Hell,” the Denzel Washington post-apocalypse western flick “The Book of Eli,” “Broken City,” and the upcoming TV documentary series “Outlaw: The Saga of Afeni & Tupac Shakur.” He used to work in tandem with his brother Allen Hughes, but they have mostly gone their separate ways to work on individual projects since 2010’s “The Book of Eli.”