Dr. Dre-produced Marvin Gaye biopic headed to screens in 2023

Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine are among the producers on board for the Motown legend's story, which will have full rights to use Gaye's music.

Adam Graham
The Detroit News

Aretha Franklin is not the only Detroit music legend whose story is coming to the big screen. 

Marvin Gaye is getting the biopic treatment, Deadline reported Thursday. The film, "What's Going On," will be directed by Allen Hughes, one-half of the Detroit-native Hughes Brothers ("Menace II Society," "Dead Presidents"), while Dr. Dre and Interscope Records co-founder Jimmy Iovine are among the producers.

Marvin Gaye produced "What's Going On" and composed it with Renaldo "Obie" Benson and Al Cleveland.

Since Gaye's widow, Jan Gaye, and Motown Records are on board with the project, the film will have the rights to use Gaye's music, a key component that earlier attempts to bring Gaye's life to screen lacked.

Playwright Marcus Gardley will pen the script. The film will have a reported budget of more than $80 million and is described as a "musical odyssey" rather than a straightforward biopic. 

“This is so personal for me,” Hughes told Deadline. Hughes has put Gaye's music in projects going back to "Menace," which used "What's Going On" in the trailer. “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." 

The lead role has not yet been cast, but Hughes says he's hoping to find an actor whose voice can blend with Gaye's, whose real vocals will be used throughout the film. 

"What's Going On" is currently due out in 2023.