IM Global and leading label Republic Records have signed a multi-film co-financing and co-production deal that kicks off with the Atlanta-set urban comedy Rollin’ Thunder.

David Schulhof, president of recently launch IM Global Music, brokered the deal whereby the parties will produce music-driven features supported by soundtracks, music videos and fan-driven social media.

Hip-hop star Nelly will co-produce Rollin’ Thunder, about an ex-con who uses his bowling expertise to prove his innocence to the tycoon who owns Atlanta’s biggest bowling alley and reconnect with his estranged daughter.

Bille Woodruff, whose credits include Addicted, Honey and Beauty Shop, will direct. Producers are Schulhof, Lipman and IM Global’s Matt Jackson, while actor-comedian Nick Cannon joins Nelly on the co-producer roster.

The production is set for summer and will include a major musical component.

Republic Records stable includes Lorde, Florence + The Machine, Ariana Grande, Enrique Iglesias, James Bay and The Weeknd as well as soundtrack albums from The Hunger GamesFifty Shades Of GreyPitch Perfect, and The Voice.

Republic Records founder and CEO Monte Lipman and IM Global founder and CEO Stuart Ford (pictured, centre, flanked by Lipman at left and Schulhof at right) made the announcement on Monday.

“The evolution of Republic’s recent success has led us into this partnership with one of Hollywood’s most prolific companies, IM Global,” said Lipman.

“We have found incredible partners in Stuart and David, and collectively look forward to establishing a new paradigm for our respective businesses. With Nelly’s inspired Rollin’ Thunder as our first project, I couldn’t be more excited about launching this venture together.”

“It’s a thrill and a privilege to kick off this venture with a music industry powerhouse like Republic,” said Ford. “Our two companies share a similar entrepreneurial spirit and culture of creative risk-taking and I’m sure we will make some highly commercial movies together.”

Schulhof added: “This strategic partnership brings together exceptional talents in film and exceptional talents in music to create a unique and exciting platform. We look forward to working with Republic and all of their talented artists to develop, create and distribute some very exciting films.”

Michael Seltzer, Steve Gawley and Roger Arar negotiated the deal on behalf of Republic with Schulhof, IM Global COO Chris Bosco and head of business affairs Deborah Zipser on behalf of IM Global.