'Welcome to Death Row' Shopped as 'Straight Outta Compton' "Sequel"
The 2001 documentary turned book features many of the same characters — Snoop Dogg, Tupac Shakur, Suge Knight — but no music rights, which could complicate the deal.
A version of this story first appeared in the Sept. 11 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
Hollywood could be staying in Compton.
In the wake of Straight Outta Compton's box-office success, APA is shopping Welcome to Death Row, which features many of the same figures from the Universal hit.
The agency has put together a package based on a book and documentary of the same name by S. Leigh Savidge, who received a story and co-executive producer credit on Compton.
While Compton chronicles the rise and breakup of seminal gangsta rap group N.W.A — a span that covers nearly a decade from the late 1980s to 1996 — and features the group's members Ice Cube, Dr. Dre and the late Eazy-E as the film's three main protagonists, Welcome to Death Row involves the years after N.W.A formed, one of the most explosive and controversial periods in music history. It's an era when rappers like Dre, Snoop Dogg and Tupac Shakur forged mega-solo careers and Death Row Records' Suge Knight reigned as the most powerful and feared hip-hop executive in the business.
No music rights are attached to Death Row, which could complicate a studio deal, but Savidge brought in N.W.A's music rights after he and Alan Wenkus began writing Compton in 2002. At the time, the pair persuaded Eazy-E’s widow and rights holder Tomica Woods-Wright to sign on and set up the project at New Line (Universal eventually picked up the movie in 2014).
Compton has become a breakout for Universal, earning $141 million since its Aug. 14 release. The movie, which cost $29 million to make, also has held the top spot domestically three weekends in a row.
The F. Gary Gray-helmed film has ignited the hip-hop biopic market: Morgan Creek and Emmett/Furla's Tupac movie is nearing the starting gate, with Carl Franklin on board to direct. That movie would largely cover the era of West Coast rap from the early 1990s — overlapping with the tail end of Compton's narrative (Tupac, played by Marcc Rose, appears in a scene toward the end of Compton) — through the death of Tupac in 1996.