Universal has enlisted Black Panther: Wakanda Forever co-writer Joe Robert Cole and director Allen Hughes, who with his brother Albert directed movies such as Menace II Society and Dead Presidents, to tackle a definitive biopic of the influential, iconic rapper and entertainment mogul Snoop Dogg.
Snoop is heavily involved with the project announced Wednesday, which will incorporate music from his past catalog. He is also producing the feature along with Sara Ramaker and Hughes. The project will mark the inaugural film from Snoop’s Death Row Pictures which he runs with Ramaker.
“I waited a long time to put this project together because I wanted to choose the right director, the perfect writer, and the greatest movie company I could partner with that could understand the legacy that I’m trying to portray on screen, and the memory I’m trying to leave behind,” said Snoop in a statement. “It was the perfect marriage. It was holy matrimony, not holy macaroni.”
Snoop, whose real name is Calvin Cordozar Broadus Jr., shot to fame in the early 1990s West Coast rap scene thanks to his collaborations with Dr. Dre and then his one-two-punch albums, Doggystyle and The Doggfather. He parlayed that into a media and business empire, becoming an actor, DJ and media personality as well as an entrepreneur with ties to technology, global consumer brands, food and beverage industries, and of course, the cannabis world.
With 35 million albums worldwide, he is a 16-time Grammy nominee, an American Music Award winner, and a Primetime Emmy Award winner. He has played himself in countless series and appeared in movies such as Training Day, Starsky & Hutch and this summer’s Jamie Foxx vampire action movie Day Shift.
“Snoop Dogg’s life and legacy makes him one of the most exciting and influential icons in popular culture,” stated Donna Langley, chairman of Universal Filmed Entertainment Group. “We met with Snoop shortly after he acquired Death Row Records and had the opportunity to hear his story in his own words. We are humbled to be able to create the lasting document of this singular artist.”
Universal has had previous success tapping into rap culture with musical biopics focusing on key artists. In 2015, it released Straight Outta Compton, centered on the West Coast hip-hop scene and N.W.A, the seminal group that Dr. Dre was a part of. The film grossed over $200 million and earned an Oscar nomination for best original screenplay. With 2002’s 8 Mile, it told a thinly-veiled autobiographical story of Eminem and his rise into an industry and genre dominated by Black artists. That movie grossed over $250 million and won the Oscar for best original song with “Lose Yourself.”
With the Snoop biopic in development, Universal will now have a trifecta of the artists — Snoop, Dr. Dre, and Eminem — who performed during this year’s Super Bowl halftime show.
Hughes and his brother, both born in Detroit, grew up in Southern California and made their names by telling stories of the Black experience with Menace and Dead Presidents at the same time as Snoop was making his rise. In 2017, Allen Hughes tackled the music scene by directing The Defiant Ones, the award-winning four-part HBO documentary focused on Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine.
“Snoop Dogg is one of the most internationally beloved figures in hip-hop,” states Hughes. “There’s just something about his energy that brings people of all walks of life together. Snoop Dogg, not just the artist, but the man and his brand, has transcended generations with his connection and appeal to audiences. His story is so authentic and utterly inspiring, and to have the opportunity to tell his story allows me to go back to the hood 30 years after Menace II Society, and say more now than I could then.”
Cole is a generation younger than Snoop and Hughes and grew up influenced by their work as he made his mark as a screenwriter. He’s notably worked with Ryan Coogler on the two Black Panther movies as well as a writer-producer on the Emmy-winning FX series American Crime Story: The People vs. OJ Simpson, for which he received an Emmy nomination for writing the episode “The Race Card.”
“I’ve been a fan of Snoop since ‘Deep Cover,’” says Cole. “His music and the films of Allen Hughes have left an indelible mark on me over my life. What excites me most is the humanity of Snoop’s journey to international icon. Universal has proven they can guide a movie like this to something special. I’m proud to be a part of the team.”
NBCUniversal’s president of music and publishing, Mike Knobloch, will supervise the project’s music. Universal’s senior vp of production and development Ryan Jones will oversee the project for the studio.
Snoop is repped by Stephen Barnes of Morris Yorn. Hughes is repped by WME and Hansen, Jacobson while Cole is repped by Circle of Confusion and Jackoway Austen.