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Oh-Oh! Shooting On Jesse L. Martin's Marvin Gaye Biopic Stalls Due To Financing Issues

by Tambay A. Obenson
June 13, 2013 10:35 AM
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Well, this doesn't look good. 

A month ago, we reported that shooting had been suspended for what was to be 2 weeks on Julien Temple’s Marvin Gaye biopic, Sexual Healing, starring Jesse L. Martin's (as Gaye), S. Epatha Merkerson (as Marvin’s Gaye’s mother, Alberta Cooper Gay), and Dwight Henry (as Marvin Gaye’s father, Marvin Gay, Sr.).

Focus Features International, the company that picked up the project, and shopped it at the Cannes Film Festival last month, said, in response to the announced 2 week hiatus, that it didn't have anything to do with financing, or any other problems that would hurt the production.

The suspension was said to be due to an unavailability of certain locations, which led to an unavailability of certain cast members, although we weren't told where and/or who exactly.

At the time, it was reported that some 70% of the shoot had already been complete.

Well, it's certainly been a lot longer than what was to be a 2-week hiatus, a month later. 

This morning, ScreenDaily is reporting that there's a possibility that the film might not see completion (at least, not anytime soon), because, Focus Features has apparently dropped out of the project, and are no longer involved!

Reasons for Focus' exited aren't given, unfortunately. Although it might have something to do with what follows.

Crew members are said to have not yet been paid fully for their work on the film, with one of the film's producers, Jimmy De Brabant, telling ScreenDaily that there's apparently a cash flow problem with the American investor backing the film; although he added that the funding that was promised by this investor had not yet arrived, but he emphasized patience with the film's cast and crew, suggesting that the money was coming.

So if you believe him, all will be well in the end. The money will come eventually, production will continue, everyone will get paid, and a film will indeed be made.

Cross your fingers - especially since most of the film has been shot (70% they say).

Although I'm still really curious to hear Focus Features' reasons for dropping out. There might be more to this than is public currently.

The film is set in the early 1980s, and focuses on the making of the Midnight Love album, while Gaye was living in Belgium - a drug addict, considered something of a has-been at the time.

Also Brendan Gleeson co-stars, playing Freddy Cousaert, who helped Marvin get back into the swing of things.

Grammy Award-winning producer Vassal Benford is executive producing, and will also compose the score. 

Principal photography is taking place in Luxemburg and Belgium.

I'm glad that this is finally moving forward, after so many years of starts and stops. Assuming all goes well in terms of financing to finish the film, I'd look for a likely film festival debut in the first half of 2014. In fact, it'll probably be on my 2014 Sundance or Cannes predictions lists.

Stay tuned...

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  • Josh | August 17, 2013 8:25 PMReply

    This is just great. You would think financing would be already taken care of way before the film start production as well as the availability of the actors and the filming locations. All of that should be secure. Where is Focus? Why is the studio behind this movie doing something?

  • that dude | June 13, 2013 11:37 PMReply

    If you want to make a Marvin Gaye movie, you AT LEAST need the LET'S GET IT ON, WHAT'S GOING ON and I WANT YOU music. But Mr. Gordy seemed determined to not allow that to happen.

  • Miles Ellison | June 13, 2013 8:57 PMReply

    It's always interesting to see what kinds of entertainment people are able to find the money to make. It's equally interesting to see what there ISN'T money for.

  • ALM | June 13, 2013 2:00 PMReply

    This is awful. You would think that financing would have been completely secured before the filming. Isn't there a contract? How is Focus just able to up and drop out of the picture just like that?

  • JB | June 13, 2013 1:21 PMReply

    Debacle from start to finish. Wish they'd waited to do this the right way.

  • @JayTeeDee | June 13, 2013 10:48 AMReply

    Did someone say Kickstarter?

  • Norbit | August 17, 2013 8:29 PM

    Right. Spike Lee is using Kickstarter to finance his new movie. The director of this film Julian Temple should do the same. If the studio not gonna help, take things into your own hands and get this movie made. 70% of the movie is complete

  • Katie | June 13, 2013 11:07 AM

    That's what I'm saying, someone needs to tell them to kickstart this up.

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