The cat is out of the bag—Spike Lee will direct the Romeo and Juliet adjacent tale Prince of Cats for the big screen.
William Shakespeare’s play has spawned plenty of adaptations—there’s the 1968 film by Franco Zeffirelli, a 2013 version starring Hailee Steinfeld, and even West Side Story. However, none of the adaptations have felt as post-modern as Baz Luhrmann’s retelling, which was shot like a two-hour music video, updated the setting to Verona Beach, and cast Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes in the lead roles—all while keeping the iambic pentameter written by the Bard. John Leguizamo took on the role of Tybalt in that adaptation, slinging pistols instead of swords.
Prince of Cats will be based on the 2012 Ron Wimberly graphic novel of the same name. Rather than centering the narrative on the star-crossed lovers, Prince of Cats is about Juliet’s protective cousin, Tybalt. The title comes from the nickname bestowed upon Tybalt by Mercutio, Romeo’s right hand man.
Per The Hollywood Reporter, the script is undergoing a rewrite by Lee and Selwyn Seyfu Hinds, who worked on an episode of Jordan Peele‘s reboot of The Twilight Zone, and is the former editor-in-chief of The Source.
The film will be set in Brooklyn in the 1980s, just after the birth of hip hop and will likely include more breakdancing than sword fighting.
Lakeith Stanfield was originally rumored to star in the film, when Legendary Entertainment secured the rights. However, he has since dropped out, leaving the titular role wide open for another swaggering yet sensitive swordsman to take his place.
Though adapting Prince of Cats has been an ongoing conversation in Hollywood for the past couple of years, the auteur confirmed the news of his involvement with the adaptation on Instagram. “Dat Cat Iz Literally Out Of Da Bag,” he wrote, in typical Lee fashion.