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Old School Hip-Hop Drives Peculiar New Trailer for Rick Famuyiwa’s ‘Dope’

Old School Hip-Hop Drives Peculiar New Trailer for Rick Famuyiwa's 'Dope'

And by “old school hip-hop,” I mean the hip-hop that I grew up with in the late 1980s through the early 1990s. The meaning of the term will likely change depending on how old each person you ask is. 

Immediately after its premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, UT last January my Twitter feed was all abuzz with nothing but praise for the film! It reminded me of the same feverish post-premiere reactions to “Dear White People” after its Sundance debut a year ago. The icing on the cake in this case is that there was reportedly a bidding war for the film, that begun after its premiere, with Open Road Films and Sony, making the winning bid that gave them US & international distribution rights to the film.

How much, you ask? $7 million, as was reported, with $15 million to be spent on P&A costs. Apparently, almost every mini-major, or studio indie subsidiary, wanted the film. So, by all accounts, it looks like we’ll be talking a lot about Rick Famuyiwa’s “Dope” throughout this year – at least, until when it’s released.

Open Road has set a June 12 release date for “Dope,” putting it in direct competition with the usual blockbuster summer fare. I suppose they may be thinking the film could serve as counter-programming to all the loud, special effects-heavy romps. Currently also opening on June 12 is Universal’s “Jurassic World.” I think we can all guess what film will come out on top that weekend; although Open Road is opening “Dope” wide, which is a bit of a surprise and unusual for an indie starring relative unknowns. No limited early test run in New York and LA to start, before expanding to other cities. Clearly they must really believe that they’ve got something more than capable on their hands.

We’ll see. 

None of us here at S&A has screened the film yet, so no useful commentary to add. But that’s a problem that I hope will be rectified soon.

Zoë Kravitz, Keith Stanfield, Kimberly Elise, rap stars A$AP Rocky and Tyga all appear in the new feature film by Famuyiwa (“The Wood,” “Brown Sugar,” “Our Family Wedding”), which is described as a coming of age story about geeks growing up in Inglewood, California, trying to avoid gangs, drugs, and crime.  

Starring Shameik Moore, Tony Revolori and Kiersey Clemons, the film follows a trio of best friends who are also in their own hip hop – punk band. 

Further, from the official synopsis: “Malcolm is a high school geek with a high-top fade, carefully navigating life in The Bottoms, one of the toughest neighborhoods in Inglewood, California. He and his fellow outcasts share a voracious appreciation for all things ’90s hip-hop, opting to sport Cross-Colours and Z. Cavariccis at the risk of being clowned at school. He dreams of attending Harvard, but first he has to make it home every day. When a drug dealer takes a shine to Malcolm and invites him to his birthday party, Malcolm’s crew is swirled into a hilarious blender of offbeat characters and bad choices where redemption can only be found in Bitcoin.”

Significant Productions’ Forest Whitaker and Nina Yang Bongiovi (“Fruitvale Station”) are producing the film, which will feature original music by Pharrell Williams.

Watch the film’s peculiarly-cut trailer below. I’m sure there’s some method to the madness that follows; and hopefully we’ll find out soon:

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