Why There's Still No Tupac Shakur Biopic
A family lawsuit and John Singleton's exit have stalled Morgan Creek's project.
This story first appeared in the July 31 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
Before his death in 1996, Tupac Shakur acted in nine film and TV projects, including John Singleton's 1993 feature Poetic Justice and the Bill Cosby-created sitcom A Different World. But since his death, the late rapper has been portrayed just twice on film, played by Anthony Mackie in 2009's Notorious and by Marcc Rose in Straight Outta Compton.
A full-fledged biopic about the late rapper, whose life story is seen as one of the most dramatic hip-hop narratives thanks to Shakur's multiplatinum albums and mysterious death, remains elusive.
In March 2014, Universal's Compton and a Singleton-helmed Tupac biopic for Morgan Creek were poised to go head-to-head at the box office. But while Compton began filming that August, Morgan Creek's untitled film appeared to stall, and by April 2015, Singleton exited. While one insider says he grew frustrated with delays, the director posted on Instagram, "The people involved aren't really respectful of the legacy of Tupac." He promised a Tupac project of his own.
Carl Franklin (Out of Time) was recruited to take over the directing reins and has begun a nationwide search for his leading man. Still, Morgan Creek can't afford to wait much longer. In 2009, the company sued Shakur's mother, Afeni Shakur, who countersued, over the music rights to the film before reaching a settlement in 2011. A source says if the biopic isn't in production by year's end, those rights revert to Afeni Shakur.
Producer Randall Emmett downplayed any drama, noting that Afeni Shakur is a producer on the film. "We feel a huge responsibility to the movie and this legacy and to Tupac's family," he says of the project, to be distributed by Open Road. "We will be in production by November."
Meanwhile, Gobi Rahimi, who directed Tupac's music videos, is attempting a film about the rapper's last days. He launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo to finance his 7 Dayz. But the campaign closed July 2, having raised only $12,541 toward its goal of $300,000.