prince of cats

Hot off the Oscar success of 2018’s BlacKkKlansman, Spike Lee has signed onto his next project. Lee is heading back to the ’80s with Legendary’s Prince of Cats, which he is set to write and direct. Described as an ’80s-set “hip-hop take on Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet,” Prince of Cats is based on the graphic novel by Ron Wimberly.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Lee has signed on to direct Legendary’s Prince of Cats, an adaptation of the graphic novel written and illustrated by Ron Wimberly. Prince of Cats is a hip-hop twist on Romeo & Juliet set in the ’80s, told through the perspective of Tybalt, Juliet’s hot-headed cousin quick to a duel — or in this case, an emcee-off (I don’t know if this is the case, that’s just my guess). Apparently actual dueling will take place in this film, with “underground sword dueling” with katanas being a popular pastime. Where these Brooklyn kids got katanas from is beyond me. Were katanas a popular item in the ’80s? In this film they are.

Here is the film’s logline per THR:

The film centers on Tybalt and his Capulet brothers, who navigate Da People’s Republic of Brooklyn, where underground sword dueling — including katanas — with the rival Montagues blossoms into a vibrant world. That world includes hip-hop essentials such as DJing, emceeing, breakdancing and graffiti.

Lee is rewriting the script with Wimberly and writer Selwyn Seyfu Hinds, who wrote the original script. Hinds was chosen for his hip-hop knowledge as a former editor-in-chief of The Source magazine, and has also penned an episode of Jordan Peele’s new Twilight Zone. Lakeith Stanfield was originally slated to star, but is no longer part of the project. There are no details yet on how Lee plans to cast the film. Prince of Cats will be produced by Janet and Kate Zucker of Zucker Productions, with Legendary’s Jon Silk and Ali Mendes overseeing for the company.

Prince of Cats sounds like a perfect homecoming of sorts for Lee, who made his name in the 1980s with fiery, bristling films set in Brooklyn like She’s Gotta Have It, Do the Right Thing, Jungle Fever, and more. It will be interesting to see whether he tackles the story with the same energy as his early films, or whether he can bring more of a pathos to it as an older and more established director. But it probably won’t be too somber — there are katanas in this movie after all.

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