Deadline reports about the upcoming Marvin Gaye biopic which will bear the same title as Gaye’s all-time classic album What’s Going On. The film will be directed by the Hughes Brothers’ Allen Hughes (Menace II Society, Dead Presidents), written by poet-playwright Marcus Gardley (The Color Purple musical), and produced by Dr. Dre and his Beats partner (and Interscope Records co-founder) Jimmy Iovine.
“This is so personal for me,” Hughes tells Deadline. “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, 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. 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.”
According to the same report, the Marvin Gaye estate has given What’s Going On their approval and it reportedly has an $80 million budget which is the biggest ever for an African-American musical biopic. They also report that producers are not aiming for a traditional biopic, but a “musical odyssey and theatrical experience around the life of one of America’s greatest singers and musicians.”