After wrapping his Vietnam veteran drama Da 5 Bloods, Oscar winner Spike Lee has signed on to direct Legendary’s Prince of Cats, which is described as a hip-hop take on William Shakespeare‘s Romeo & Juliet, Collider has confirmed.
Based on the graphic novel written and illustrated by Ron Wimberly, the film will be set in the 1980s hip-hop scene and tell the classic star-crossed love story from the perspective of Juliet’s angry cousin, Tybalt, whose underground sword fights with the rival Montague clan in Da People’s Republic of Brooklyn blossoms into a vibrant world fueled by music and dance.
Selwyn Seyfu Hinds, who is the former editor-in-chief of The Source magazine, wrote the initial screenplay, and Lee will consult both Hinds and Wimberly as he embarks on a rewrite of the script. Janet and Kate Zucker of Zucker Productions will produce the film, which Legendary executives Jon Silk and Ali Mendes will oversee on behalf of the company.
The project once had Lakeith Stanfield attached to star, though he is no longer involved, and Lee will work with Legendary and the Zuckers to cast a new leading man as Tybalt. Sources say that the graphic novel’s Brooklyn setting was one element that appealed to Lee, who has set many of films there, including She’s Gotta Have It, Do the Right Thing, Jungle Fever, Crooklyn, Clockers, He Got Game and Red Hook Summer.
Lee won an Oscar for co-writing BlacKkKlansman and he’s currently editing Da 5 Bloods, which stars Clarke Peters, Delroy Lindo and Isiah Whitlock Jr. along with Chadwick Boseman, rising star Jonathan Majors, and Paul Walter Hauser, who had a memorable supporting role in Klansman. Lee is represented by ICM Partners, and the Hollywood Reporter broke the news.
And hey, speaking of Shakespeare, Lee’s contemporary Joel Coen is casting his own adaptation of Macbeth, and Brendan Gleeson is in talks to join Lee’s frequent collaborator Denzel Washington in that film.