EXCLUSIVE: Cooley High has been set for a remake at MGM with DeVon Franklin, Common and Tony Krantz partnering on the seminal 1975 coming-of-age drama. Seth Rosenfeld will write the script. Set in 1960s Chicago and focused on a group of high school pals with big dreams of getting out of the South Side, Cooley High fell in with a series of terrific coming-of-age films that included American Graffiti, The Lords Of Flatbush and The Wanderers.
Beyond that, the original became influential in African-American storytelling, in that it told a complex depiction of life as a black American and didn’t fit the blaxploitation mold of the time. The Michael Schultz-directed film cost $750,000 to make and grossed more than $13 million. Lighthearted at times, Cooley High also addressed serious topics such as gang violence, masculinity, sexism and the value of education in the black community. That made it fertile ground for Franklin, the former Sony exec who has focused on films with uplifting content; Chicago native Common, who with John Legend shared the Oscar for Best Song for Selma‘s “Glory”; and Krantz, whose father Steve Krantz produced the original film. They felt it a timely project in light of the racial unrest that has followed several high-profile shootings throughout the country.
Franklin will produce through his Franklin Entertainment, Common under Freedom Road Productions and Krantz through Flame Ventures. Drew Comins will executive produce for Flame Ventures along with Derek Dudley for Freedom Road. Jonathan Glickman and Adam Rosenberg will oversee the project for MGM, which is coming off the success of Me Before You, which it produced. That pic, starring Emilia Clarke and Sam Claflin based on Jojo Moyes’ bestseller, has grossed $172.9M worldwide since Warner Bros released it last month.
Rosenfeld, whose credits include HBO’s How to Make It in America and King of the Jungle, is working on Baz Luhrmann’s Netflix series The Get Down. Franklin, Common, Krantz and Rosenfeld are all repped by CAA. Franklin is also repped by attorney John Meigs at Hansen Jacobsen.