Music mogul inks deal with mini-major

New Line has signed music mogul Dr. Dre to a multiyear feature producing deal through his newly minted Crucial Films banner.

Dre, who will co-produce with longtime collaborator Phillip Atwell, plans to focus first on developing dark comedies for the mini-major before moving into other areas, such as horror. He’ll be heavily involved in the music side of such projects.

“This is a natural switch for me, since I’ve directed a lot of musicvideos,” Dre told Daily Variety. “And I eventually want to get into directing.”

Dre worked with New Line in the past, scoring films including “Set It Off.” He credited New Line production prexy Toby Emmerich, who had been head of New Line’s music business before moving into his current slot, with persuading him to make the move into features in a manner similar to that of other music-industry heavyweights.

“He said ‘I want to be your Jimmy Iovine,’ ” Dre recalled. “There was nothing more he needed to say.”

Emmerich first approached Dre a year ago in order to convince him that his producing and storytelling capabilities would be welcome at New Line.

“Everything Dre has worked on becomes a hit, and one of the reasons for that is that he never put his name on anything that he doesn’t really believe in,” Emmerich said. “His records have always been very narrative in nature, and you can tell from his songs that he understands how to tell a story. We’re excited to work with him as he branches out into the film world.”

Dre’s produced albums have sold more than 80 million worldwide and won four Grammy Awards. He’s been involved with artists such as Eminem, Snoop Dogg, Mary J. Blige, 50 Cent, Eve and the Game.

Dre began his career in 1986 as founding member of the rap group N.W.A. He’s the CEO of Aftermath Records.

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