Academy Award winning director Spike Lee is set to lead a new adaptation for Legendary Pictures. Based on a graphic novel by Ron Wimberly, Prince of Cats is a retelling of William Shakespeare's tragedy Romeo & Juliet through the lens of a 1980s hip-hop world. Unlike the original work, and the many subsequent modern adaptations, Wimberly's graphic novel tells the dramatic, forbidden romance from the perspective of Juliet's hot-headed cousin, Tybalt.

Set in Da People's Republic of Brooklyn, Tybalt and the rest of his Capulet family are enthralled in underground sword dueling battles against, you guessed it, the Montagues. The rivalry unfolds in a vibrant world of hip-hop, chock full of DJing, emceeing, breakdancing and graffiti culture. The perfect aesthetic for a world in animation a la Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse, maybe?

Prince of Cats was originally published by DC Comics' Vertigo in 2012, but it was eventually moved to Image Comics. Now, the story is moving off the page and to the screen by way of a script by Selwyn Seyfu Hinds with the help of Lee and graphic novel creator Wimberly. Hinds once served as editor-in-chief of The Source magazine, and he has produced a slew of Hip-Hop centric documentary content. He's only just beginning to step into the writer position for film and TV, having recently penned an episode of Jordan Peele's The Twilight Zone. With his knowledge of the hip-hop world, Lee's powerful film and story expertise and Wimberly first-hand knowledge of the source material, the script is shaping up to be a hit.

Lee's presence in the zeitgeist has long been felt. His bright and vibrant settings (or manipulation of color) coupled with his bold approach to political commentary and powerful content has shaped his character-centric films into cultural staples. Spike Lee was behind some of the country's most beloved films like the acclaimed Malcolm X as well as She's Gotta Have It and Do the Right Thing, both of which, along with Jungle Fever, Crooklyn, Clockers, He Got Game and Red Hook Summer take place in Brooklyn, so we know he will nail the setting of Prince of Cats. Lee's latest release, BlackKklansman starring John David Washington and Adam Driver earned him an Oscar for best adapted screenplay as well as nominations for best picture and director. The film was based on the true story of an African American man that infiltrated the KKK over the phone. Ending the film with an emotional tribute to the protests and victims of racially charged violence, Lee once again proved that he has a voice to be heard.

Before tackling Prince of Cats, the filmmaker is finishing up post-production on the thriller Da 5 Bloods starring Chadwick Boseman, Paul Walter Hauser and Jonathan Majors, set for release sometime in 2020.

Prince of Cats is produced by Janet and Kate Zucker of Zucker Productions with Jon Silk and Ali Mendes overseeing the project for Legendary Pictures. This news comes to us directly from The Hollywood Reporter.

Samantha Clair at Movieweb
Samantha Clair