By Ron Wynn
NASHVILLE, TN — There have long been stories and rumors about a Marvin Gaye biopic, but it seems this time they will actually prove true. It was announced Monday that a Marvin Gaye biopic was officially coming from Warner Bros. The company said it had acquired “What’s Going On,” a project that would be co-produced by Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine. Allen Hughes was named as both a director and a producer. Gaye’s estate, widow Jan Gaye, and Motown are also part of the deal, something that should mean original musical recordings will 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,” Hughes said. “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 will be the second project for the trio of Dre, Iovine and Hughes. Their previous one “The Defiant Ones,” an HBO documentary, was nominated for an Emmy. Production is set to begin in 2022, with a 2023 release date according to Dateline. So far no casting details have been announced, but the film’s budget is reported to be $80 million, the largest amount designated to date for a biopic featuring a Black performer or organization. Warner Bros. is describing the project as a “musical odyssey and theatrical experience.”
However, while they are reported to be part of the production, the Gaye estate had not yet made any official statement regarding the film.