Drake’s latest partnership isn’t with a sneaker brand or a streaming service, but a British film company. The Canadian rapper has joined hands with Altitude Film Distribution to acquire UK distribution rights to a drama about police brutality, according to a press release.
Monsters and Men — which won the Sundance Special Jury Award for Outstanding Feature — is directed by first-time filmmaker Reinaldo Marcus Green and centers on the police killing of a black man, the aftermath of which is told through the eyes of police officers, bystanders and the surrounding community. It stars actors Anthony Ramos (of Broadway Hamilton fame) and John David Washington (BlacKkKlansman) and is slated for January 2019 release in Britain, with a U.S. release set for this fall. “The film is powerful, emotionally provocative and highly relevant and the combined resources of Drake and ourselves is a unique and potent combination to reach the largest audience in the UK and Ireland,” Altitude chairman and co-CEO Will Clarke said in a statement, adding: “We look forward to Monsters and Men being the first of many projects on which we work together.”
Details beyond that are scant. Drake was previously listed as an executive producer on the project, and he canceled his planned appearance at the Toronto International Film Festival last week — in which Monsters and Men was screened — at the last minute, citing his ongoing tour as the reason. “I’m just very excited and honored to be part of something that continues a conversation in this day in age,” Drake said in a video message shown to the audience at the festival. “I think it’s an extremely important moment and an important movie. I hope you guys love it as much as I do.”
But while his specific interest and involvement in this movie can only be speculated upon, the rapper (and once-actor) has made his ambitions in the film industry at large fairly public. Drake is listed as an executive producer on Sam Levinson’s HBO series Euphoria, which is scheduled to premiere in 2019 and features a high school plot likened to that of his alma mater show Degrassi: The Next Generation.
Last year, he was one of the executive producers on Netflix documentary The Carter Effect, about NBA star Vince Carter. In interviews last winter, Drake talked at length about his Hollywood interests — and in particular the partnerships he has recently struck with film studio A24, entertainment company Anonymous Content, and Apple, the latter of which has reportedly “given him the go-ahead to produce whatever he chooses.”
Apple Music executives have credited Drake with immensely helping the streaming service achieve the cultural relevance it has today, and record-mogul-turned-Apple-exec Jimmy Iovine told the Hollywood Reporter that “If I had a company today, I would give it to Drake and [Drake’s business partner Adel ‘Future’ Nur] to run in a minute.” Drake has yet to announce any video efforts with Apple, but his carefully chosen involvement in evocative films and shows thus far suggests they’ll be projects close to home.