In 2015, Straight Outta Compton made headlines as a box office smash, claiming the titles of highest-grossing musician biopic and highest-grossing film by a black director. The film was a cultural keystone for many black moviegoers, and it showed how prevalent issues in the 1980s, particularly police brutality, can still resonate with a modern audience. What fans may not know, however, is that there was another hip-hop biopic in the works before Straight Outta Compton ever premiered, and that film is finally about to get its day in the sun.
All Eyez on Me, a biographical drama that follows legendary rapper Tupac Shakur through his whirlwind career, has been in the works since 2011. The film wrapped principal photography in early 2016, and has even released two trailers, but the Benny Boom-directed biography had yet to land a distributor — until today.
According to a report from THR, Lionsgate has snagged the distribution rights to All Eyez on Me and set a June 16, 2017 theatrical release date. The premiere will come exactly one year after the debut of the film’s first trailer, on what would have been Tupac’s 46th birthday.
This is great news for All Eyez on Me production company Morgan Creek Productions, given the film’s extended development cycle. A Tupac biopic was originally greenlit for the company back in 2011, with Antoine Fuqua (Southpaw, The Magnificent Seven) signed on to direct, but the project fell apart after some fatal miscommunications. A pending lawsuit from former All Eyez on Me financier EFO Films claims that Morgan Creek signed a distribution deal with Open Road Films without EFO’s agreement. The film came back together, entitled All Eyez on Me, in late 2015. Cast members include Danai Gurira (The Walking Dead) as Tupac’s mother, Afeni Shakur, Jamal Woolard (Notorious) as the Notorious B.I.G., and newcomer Demetirus Shipp, Jr. as Tupac.
Fans have undoubtedly been eager to see a Tupac biopic come to light for years, so it’s wonderful to see this project finally get a release. Its strong cast and Atlanta roots make this film a serious contender for the summer box office, much like Straight Outta Compton was two years ago. Let’s just hope that, if All Eyez on Me receives similar crticial acclaim, it won’t be likewise snubbed by the Oscars.
The musician biopic is a cinematic niche full of possibilities, and Tupac’s life story is certainly rich enough to live up to its legacy. All Eyez on Me will likely see a buzz-heavy summer release; now it’s just a matter of whether or not the film can match its hype.