Drumline is a 2002 American film directed by Charles Stone III. The screenplay, which was inspired by The Southwest Dekalb High School Drumline (SWD), was written by Tina Gordon Chism and Shawn Schepps. The story is about a young drummer from New York, played by Nick Cannon, who enters the fictional Atlanta A University and bumps heads with the leader of his new school's drum section. Leonard Roberts, Zoe Saldana, and Orlando Jones co-star. The film opened to highly positive reviews with most critics liking the energy and playing of the musical bands in the film. It was a success at the box office, earning over $56 million in the U.S., and almost $1.2 million in foreign markets. The story concerns Devon Miles (Cannon), a teen who has just graduated from high school in New York City. Upon graduating, Devon heads to Atlanta, Georgia to attend the fictitious Atlanta A University, a historically black college that takes enormous pride in its marching band. Devon was personally invited to attend on full scholarship by Dr. Lee (Jones), head of the band, for his prodigious talents.
Drumline centers around Devon (Nick Cannon), a freshman recruited to attend Atlanta A&T University on a full ride scholarship to play in the school’s marching band. He’s an overachiever with a chip on his shoulder who thinks he knows everything about playing the drums. At tryouts, which look more like boot camp, Devon disrespects his band director Dr. Aaron Lee (Orlando Jones) by refusing to participate with the rest of the group. A power struggle soon ensues between Devon and his drumline section leader Sean (Leonard Roberts) who feels the freshman’s talent threatens his position at the top of the food chain.
Devon is eventually removed from the team for causing a fight during homecoming, which leads to problems with his dance-squad leader girlfriend Laila (Zoe Saldana). The university president is upset about Devon’s removal and he pressures Dr. Lee to reinstate Devon because the school’s alumni will revoke their financial support of the squad if they don’t. Eventually, everyone works through their issues just in time for a marching band competition between A&T and its archrival, Morris Brown University. Indeed, in the last 20 minutes, we are finally treated to several full performances where their drum squads precision and artistry are allowed to shine.