Above, courtesy of Entertainment Weekly, a first-look at the BET/Relativity Media-backed next feature film from writer/director Gina Prince-Bythewood, now titled "Beyond the Lights" (previously, "Blackbird").
This pairing marks the very first collaboration between BET and Relativity, and possibly not the last.
"Relativity is always looking to work with creative and original companies like BET Networks. We are excited to have them on board," said Tucker Tooley, president of Relativity Media, in a press statement when the deal was announced.
Loretha Jones, President of Original Programming and News for BET, added: “BET Networks is excited to partner for the first time ever with film and television studio, Relativity Media to create a film that matches the high-quality caliber production expected by our viewers. BET Networks looks forward to the first of many collaborations and sharing the final production on the big screen with our U.S and African audiences via its theatrical release.”
The film's official synopsis reads:
Blackbird is the story of Noni Jean, a hot new artist who has just won a Grammy and is primed for stardom. But the pressures of success compel her to nearly end her life until she is saved by a young police officer. They fall hard for each other, despite the protests of their parents who want each to focus on their own career ambitions. But he might be the missing piece to unlock her artistic potential.
Bythewood's "Beyond the Lights" stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Nate Parker and, unknown to us until today, Minnie Driver, based on the above photo, who, according to EW, plays Gug's "overbearing, opportunistic mother."
Stephanie Allain is producing and The-Dream is creating all the original music for film, which will be choreographed by Laurieann Gibson.
Relativity president Tucker Tooley is exec producing with Matt Alvarez and Reggie Bythewood.
"Beyond the Lights" will be released theatrically by Relativity, with an official release date now set for November 14, 2014. After that, it'll have an exclusive television premiere in the U.S. and South Africa on BET.
This will be Bythewood's first feature film directorial effort since 2008's "The Secret Life of Bees."