Actor to star in Screen Gems film

Screen Gems has set Ice Cube to star in “First Sunday,” an urban-themed comedy that marks the feature directing debut of playwright David E. Talbert.

Matt Alvarez, Ice Cube, David McIlvain, Julie Yorn and Talbert are the producers of the co-production between Cube Vision and the Firm. Ronald G. Muhammed, Tim Story and Stacy Cramer exec produce.

Talbert script casts Cube as one of two men who bungle an attempt to heist money from a church. They wind up taking its parishioners hostage, and those churchgoers slowly convert the robbers to see the error of their ways.Filming will begin May 14 in Los Angeles and Baltimore, with pic to be released to coincide with the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend.

Movie returns Ice Cube to the arena in which he’s found the most film success: making modestly budgeted pics with urban appeal.

Though he hasn’t directed a feature yet, Talbert has already proved his appeal with urban audiences. He has spent 15 years writing more than a dozen gospel-tinged plays that have been performed in theaters around the country. His latest, “Nick of Tyme,” is currently on tour with Morris Chestnut in the lead.

Talbert is weighing offers to adapt several of his plays for the bigscreen but hasn’t made any deals yet. Screen Gems prexy Clint Culpepper, who has established a niche in making and marketing urban films, was eager to bring Talbert into the fold.

Ice Cube most recently completed “Are We Done Yet?,” the Steve Carr-directed sequel to his hit comedy “Are We There Yet?”; Sony will release the film this spring. Ice Cube is also developing “Welcome Back, Kotter” at the Weinstein Co., but “First Sunday” will be his next film.

Ice Cube is repped by WMA and managed by the Firm.

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