Spike Lee to Direct Adaptation of Prince of Cats

There is certainly no shortage of comic book adaptations hitting film and television, from superhero fare like Avengers: Endgame and Batwoman to more grounded stories like The Kitchen and Stumptown. Another property that's set to hopefully join that list is Prince of Cats, an '80s-set reimagining of Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet -- and it looks like it's found an iconic director to bring it to life. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Spike Lee has closed a deal to direct the upcoming Legendary film, as well as to rewrite the script alongside Selwyn Seyfu Hinds and the graphic novel's creator, Ron Wimberly. The film was originally conceived as a vehicle for Sorry to Bother You and Knives Out star Lakeith Stanfield, but he reportedly is no longer attached to the project.

Lee is an iconic director known for his work on films like Do the Right Thing, Malcolm X, and She's Gotta Have It. He recently earned his first Oscar earlier this year for Best Adapted Screenplay for BlacKkKlansman.

The adaptation recontextualizes the Romeo & Juliet tale through the eyes of Tybalt, Juliet's angry and duel-loving cousin. Alongside his Capulet brothers, Tybalt will 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.

The Prince of Cats graphic novel, which is written and illustrated by Wemberly, was initially published by Vertigo Comics in 2012, before making its way over to Image in 2016.

"PRINCE OF CATS is Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead meets The Warriors meets Sword of Doom," a synopsis of the Image rerelease reads. "PRINCE OF CATS sets Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet in an alt-universe, mid-eighties New York where dueling with live blades evolved as a cultural phenomenon alongside New York's other street cultures; it eschews the story of the titular star-crossed lovers to follow the tragic story of Tybalt, the Prince of Cats."

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Hinds previously served as the editor-in-chief of The Source magazine, and recently penned the "Replay" episode of Jordan Peele's The Twilight Zone reboot. The film will be produced by Janet and Kate Zucker of Zucker Productions, with Legendary’s Jon Silk and Ali Mendes overseeing for the company.

spike lee prince of cats movie
(Photo: FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)

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