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Spike Lee to Direct 1980s-Set Hip-Hop 'Romeo & Juliet' Tale 'Prince of Cats' (Exclusive)

Legendary is developing the film based on a graphic novel written and illustrated by Ron Wimberly.
Spike Lee   |   Tristan Fewings/Getty Images
Legendary is developing the film based on a graphic novel written and illustrated by Ron Wimberly.

Spike Lee is headed to the 1980s hip-hop scene.

The filmmaker, who last directed BlacKkKlansman, has closed a deal to direct Prince of Cats, Legendary’s adaptation of a graphic novel written and illustrated by Ron Wimberly. Lee will also rewrite the script and work with Wimberly and scribe Selwyn Seyfu Hinds.

The project is described as an '80s-set hip-hop take on Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, with the tragic star-crossed love story seen through the eyes of Tybalt, Juliet’s angry and duel-loving cousin.

The film centers on Tybalt and his Capulet brothers, who navigate Da People’s Republic of Brooklyn, where underground sword dueling — including katanas — with the rival Montagues blossoms into a vibrant world. That world includes hip-hop essentials such as DJing, emceeing, breakdancing and graffiti.

Hinds wrote the initial script for the adaptation of the graphic novel that originated from Vertigo and was then reissued by Image Comics. Hinds' knowledge of the hip-hop world stems from his time as editor-in-chief of The Source magazine. Hinds also serves as a comic writer, having penned an episode of Jordan Peele’s update of The Twilight Zone.

Janet and Kate Zucker of Zucker Productions will produce Prince of Cats, with Legendary’s Jon Silk and Ali Mendes overseeing for the company.

Though originally slated to star, Knives Out actor Lakeith Stanfield is no longer attached to the project. 

BlacKkKlansman put Lee back on top of Hollywood studios’ phone sheet, netting him Oscar nominations for best picture and director and a win for best adapted screenplay. He is in postproduction on Da 5 Bloods, a thriller which counts Chadwick Boseman, Paul Walter Hauser and Jonathan Majors in its ensemble.

Prince of Cats returns Lee to telling sagas featuring his beloved Brooklyn, which has been the setting of many of his films, including She’s Gotta Have It, Do the Right Thing, Jungle Fever, Crooklyn, Clockers, He Got Game and Red Hook Summer.

Lee is repped by ICM Partners and Grubman Shire.

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