A quick search back through our archives on the Tupac biopic movie reveals that we’ve been reporting on its development for over four years now – time added to the pile of years between Tupac Shakur’s death in 1996, and talk of putting his life on the big screen, ever since.
Recently (read: in the last two years) it seemed as though things were progressing; Tupac gained financing through Morgan Creek Productions, and then landed Boyz N the Hood and 2 Fast 2 Furious helmer John Singleton as the director. However, it now seems though that progress has hit a speed bump – though not one that will derail the Tupac biopic in its entirety.
The Wrap reports that Singleton has left the project, after having a falling out with Morgan Creek over creative direction of the film. The Wrap cited an interview in hip-hop magazine XXL in which Singleton had the following to say:
How does it feel to be involved in making the Tupac biopic?
It’s a very intimidating because, like I said, you just want to get it right. I think the picture is not going to be good unless it’s offensive to some people. So, whenever you make a movie, you always have different elements that people have their say about. But when I’m making my movies, John Singleton movies, it’s really just my voice. So I can’t be listening to all the other suggestions of all these other people and shit. So we’re not going to pull the trigger on that until it’s right. If somebody else wants to do something different then they can do something different. But if it’s going to be right, it’s going to be right. It’s going to be something that potentially adorns ‘Pac’s legacy.
I’m not sure if you’ve gotten to this part, but the casting probably has to be extra hard. Have you gotten there yet?
Yeah, I have. I have great casting choices, it’s just too premature to talk about.
Soon after that, apparently, Morgan Creek parted ways with Singleton, and now Carl Franklin is in the director’s chair. Franklin is best known for directing Denzel Washington in movies like Devil In A Blue Dress and Out of Time – and more recently episodes of shows like House of Cards, The Leftovers and The Affair. All things considered, he’s a solid director with a well-rounded resume.
Of course, the issue now turns to what kind of movie Morgan Creek is crafting. Singleton brought with him a sort of authenticity in regards to hip-hop culture – authenticity that Franklin doesn’t necessarily carry. As The Wrap’s inside source claims:
“There are major creative differences,” an individual with knowledge of the project said. “Honestly, Morgan Creek can make a sub-par Tupac movie and move on. If John Singleton makes a bad Tupac movie? It’s something he’d have to live with for the rest of his life.”
That inside source hits the nail on the head; given his background and reputation, Singleton would have to carry the legacy of this Tupac biopic in a way that might now land on lesser-known director doing a standard studio biopic.
Real talk! The reason I am not making this picture is because the people involved aren't really respectful of the legacy of Tupac Amaru Shakur. I won't say much if you want you can read my articles in Hollywood Reporter on authenticity in Black Storytelling ... To Pac's real fans just know I am still planning a movie on Tupac ... It doesn't matter what they do mines will be better... Tupac was much more than a hip hop artist ... He was a black man guided by his passions ... Of most importance was his love of black people and culture ... Something the people involved in this movie know nothing about... Real talk! How you gonna make a movie about a man when you suing his mother to get the rights to tell his story?! They have no true love 4 Pac so this movie will not be made with love! And that's why my ass isn't involved ! If Tupac knew what was going on he'd ride on all these fools and take it to the streets... But I won't do that ... I'll just make my own project. What Yall think about that?!!
For the fans, having Singleton (a prominent figure of the ’90s hip-hop era) off the project – and more standard approach being pursued – is most likely going to sound like a losing prospect. Tupac continues to be a legend and icon in pop-culture, so the expectations for this film are considerable. After so much time, the biggest disappointment could actually be getting a movie that is just okay, standard or passible.
We’ll keep you updated on the status of the Tupac Biopic as it develops.