The story of Marvin Gaye is officially getting the on-screen treatment. According to Deadline, Warner Bros. has acquired What’s Going On, with Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine as producers. Menace II Society‘s Allen Hughes will serve as director and a producer for the project as well. Gaye’s estate, widow Jan Gaye, and Motown are part of the deal as well, opening the door for original musical recordings to be used in the film.
“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,” said Hughes.
“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.”
This film will be Dre, Iovine, and Hughes’ second project, since 2017’s Emmy-nominated HBO television documentary, The Defiant Ones.
Production is slated to begin in 2022 and the project has a potential release date of 2023 the outlet reported. The next steps include casting an actor to bring Marvin Gaye’s story alive. The studio has reportedly secured a budget of over $80 million, the most ever for a music biopic exploring a Black subject. The film is set to be no ordinary biopic, and is described by the entertainment news outlet as a “musical odyssey and theatrical experience.”
Gaye, pivotal to Motown’s development and signature sound, is known for not only his sultry, smooth R&B songs such as “Sexual Healing” and “Let’s Get It On,” but also the politically charged anthem, “What’s Going On.” At the age of 44, he was killed in 1984, by his father following a conflict at the family’s Los Angeles home. His life and career are decorated with highs and lows, all set to be fully explored by the biopic.
Marvin Gaye’s estate has yet to release an official statement on the film.