Paramount Classics is acquiring distribution rights to the documentary “Fade to Black,” a portrait of hip-hop star Jay-Z.

Under the deal, which sources said is nearly final, the film will roll out Nov. 5. The acquisition could mark a change in direction for Paramount Pictures’ specialty film arm.

The Paramount Classics label, headed by co-presidents David Dinerstein and Ruth Vitale, has concentrated in the past on acquiring art-house fare, with an emphasis on foreign-language features.

“Fade,” which focuses on the rise of hip-hop star Shawn Carter, better known as Jay-Z, should appeal to a potentially wider audience. The docu, directed by Pat Paulson and Michael John Warren, focuses specifically on Jay-Z’s November concert, which earned a street rep as a once-in-a-lifetime event. The film also looks at the star’s background and the recording of his “Black Album,” which the rapper has said is his last musical outing.

Tom Freston, Viacom Inc. co-president and co-chief operating officer, suggested last week that Paramount Classics would be taking a new direction, telling an investor conference that the label needs to become more competitive with other studio specialty film divisions. He also said he wants the studio to target younger and urban audiences.

“Fade” is pitched toward those audiences, but rather than viewing it as an immediate response to Freston’s remarks, sources familiar with the deal said it has been in the works since the summer.

Insiders have speculated that Paramount may launch a new specialty label under the Viacom banner devoted to genre fare like Sony’s Screen Gems. Others are betting that Paramount Classics will remain but will be forced to undergo executive changes. Neither Dinerstein nor Vitale was available for comment.

Freston again addressed the studio’s overall outlook Tuesday in New York at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference, saying it is closing deals “with all kinds of talent.” Paramount will skew movies to a younger audience, he reiterated, while it develops more specialty films, which he called a “great source of future growth.” Viacom’s strategic plans will be presented to the company’s board of directors next week, he said.

Jay-Z’s friends and colleagues who appear in “Fade to Black” include Beyonce, Mary J. Blige, Missy Elliott, R. Kelly, Foxy Brown, Pharrell, ?uestlove, the Illadelphonics, Damon Dash, Rick Rubin, Slick Rick and P. Diddy.