EXCLUSIVE: Channing Tatum did it with Magic Mike, and his co-star Joe Manganiello sold upcoming docu La Bare on the strength of the tantalizing subject matter. Now indie helmer Jean-Claude LaMarre (Gang Of Roses, Color Of The Cross) is hoping to tap into the world of male strippers with his urban take, Chocolate City, which aims to merge the Magic Mike phenomenon with the recent strength of African-American-themed films at the box office. Black Dynamite star Michael Jai White and model-turned-actor Tyson Beckford are in negotiations to star in the tale of Devin, a college student struggling to make ends meet who meets the owner of a male strip club (White) who convinces him to give amateur night a whirl. Beckford will play Adrian, the club’s former star attraction who finds his popularity fading as the new kid starts to steal the spotlight.
LaMarre, whose 2006 Jesus biopic Color Of The Cross was released by Fox, wrote and is directing the pic. He’ll also produce for his Nulite banner alongside Gabriel Casseus, Robert Aaronson and Rozina Negusei of Zanar Entertainment. “This movie was in gestation for 2 1/2 years, but after Magic Mike it seemed a natural fit for the African-American female audience,” LaMarr told me. I researched the male exotic club scene and it’s massive across the country, with clubs specifically targeting middle-aged African-American women.” The filmmaker has a deal with Eone’s non-theatrical urban features division but is hoping to shop it to a studio that can take Chocolate City to theaters in a strategic rollout to urban markets where women flock to black male strip clubs. Story also has a faith-themed subplot involving the protagonist’s struggle to balance his religious upbringing with his newfound career on the stripper stage. Chocolate City is set to start lensing in Los Angeles in June. White, who recently appeared on The CW’s Arrow, is repped by APA and Craig Baumgarten Management. Beckford appears in the upcoming drama Addicted and is repped by Bethann Hardison Management. LaMarre is repped by Pantheon Talent and attorney Arnie Holland.