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‘Prince of Cats’: Spike Lee to Direct Legendary’s Take on the Minor Players in ‘Romeo & Juliet’

Warner Bros. will distribute the film which is based on a re-released 2012 graphic novel written and illustrated by Ron Wimberly.

Spike LeeGovernors Awards, Arrivals, Los Angeles, USA - 18 Nov 2018

Spike Lee

Michael Buckner/Variety/REX/Shutterstock

Spike Lee is set to direct a big-screen adaptation of Ron Wimberly’s 2012 graphic novel, “Prince of Cats,” for Legendary Entertainment. Described as “the B-side to Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’,” the story focuses on Tybalt, the son of Lady Capulet’s brother, Juliet’s short-tempered cousin, Romeo’s rival, and a character from Shakespeare’s tragedy.

Lee confirmed the project with IndieWire.

Set in the 1980s, in “Da People’s Republic of Brooklyn,” Lee’s favorite domain, the official synopsis for the novel reads: “‘Prince of Cats’ is played at an eighties block party in a NY where underground sword dueling blossomed alongside hip-hop, punk, disco and no wave. It’s the story of the minor players with Tybalt at the center.”

After being out of print for four years, the novel was re-worked and re-released in 2016.

The adaptation has been in development since July 2018, when it was announced that Legendary had won the filming rights to the graphic novel, with Lakeith Stanfield set to play the lead role of Tybalt. However, Stanfield is no longer connected to the project, and no director was attached at the time.

Legendary’s Jon Silk and Ali Mendes are overseeing the project for the company, with Janet and Kate Zucker of Zucker Productions producing.

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"Prince of Cats"

Lee, who won the 2019 Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay, for “BlacKkKlansman,” will re-write the “Prince of Cats” script with author Wimberly and screenwriter Selwyn Seyfu Hinds, who wrote the “Replay” episode of Jordan Peele’s “The Twilight Zone” reboot TV series for CBS All Access. Hinds was also announced as writer and co-executive producer of HBO’s serial adaptation of Nnedi Okorafor’s award winning science-fiction novel “Who Fears Death?”, with George R. R. Martin as executive producer.

Lee confirmed that Warner Bros. will distribute the film, under its 2018 deal with Legendary, the company behind “Godzilla” and “Kong: Skull Island.”

Lee received Oscar nominations for best picture and director for “BlacKkKlansman.” He is currently in post-production on the thriller “Da 5 Bloods,” about a group of veterans from the Vietnam War who return to the jungle to find their lost innocence, boasting an impressive cast that includes Chadwick Boseman, Jonathan Majors, Clarke Peters, Giancarlo Esposito, Delroy Lindo, Norm Lewis and others. The film is expected in 2020.

Lee is also an executive producer on the civil rights drama “Son of the South,” with his longtime editor Barry Alexander Brown directing from his own screenplay. His Netflix series based on his 1986 feature film debut, “She’s Gotta Have It,” was canceled over the summer, after two seasons.

No other information is available on “Prince of Cats” at this time. The news was first reported by THR.

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