Rick Famuyiwa, director of 2015 indie comedy Dope, is in negotiations with Sony Pictures to helm an adaptation of upcoming graphic novel Son of Shaolin.
It looked for a little while as if Famuyiwa would parlay his success with the little seen but beloved gem Dope into major blockbuster filmmaking, agreeing with Warner Brothers in June of 2016 to direct The Flash (now known as Flashpoint) inside their DC Extended Universe. As has been consistently the case with that project, however, the instability in the pre-production process forced Famuyiwa to leave over "creative differences." Still looking for his follow-up to Dope, it appears that the director has landed on another adaptation to climb aboard.
According to Deadline, the director is in talks to helm the adaptation of Son of Shaolin, a martial arts based graphic novel that will be released in the fall by Jay Longino. While specific plot details are being kept under wraps, we know that the film will intertwine the mythology of kung fu and Shaolin with the struggles of teenagers who are watching their neighborhoods become gentrified with an affluence and wealth that they are typically not accustomed to in their everyday life. Longino also wrote the first draft of the screenplay and will executive produce with Dwayne Johnson and his production company Seven Bucks Production. Despite producing, Johnson will not star in the film.
Being as in-demand as he's been post the success of Dope, Son of Shaolin sounds like a natural and bigger budgeted progression of some of the themes that Famuyiwa focused on in his last outing. Dope focused a lot on the tough life of geeky minorities living in a culture dominated by violence and masculinity. The film was a statement on the dichotomy between the African-American reality and the stereotypical lifestyle that has been painted for them, basically serving as a culture shock by showing that not every person of color is alike. One can already see how Son of Shaolin could take those base ideas of culture shock and extend them further, focusing on what happens when the world and town that you think you know is taken over by unfamiliar faces.
More than any kind of statement, Dope is an extremely entertaining and energetic film, and Famuyiwa's style should translate well to some sort of action-comedy project. It's unclear what kind of tone that Son of Shaolin will have considering the graphic novel has not been released yet to the public. Given the courting of Famuyiwa for the director's chair of the project, however, it's wise to assume that Son of Shaolin will feature at the very least some type of dark comedic tone, if not all out broad comedy.