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There has been a biopic sitting in development hell for a few years about the life of rapper Tupac Shakur. Directors have come and gone and the movie remains unmade. Recently, things appeared to be moving forward, but now Morgan Creek is being sued for $10 million because of some of that movement. What, specifically? Well, the other half of the production team says Morgan Creek has been making decisions without their approval.
The production company Emmett Furla Oasis signed a deal in September of 2013 to co-produce the Tupac film with Morgan Creek. The deal called for pretty standard things, including co-approval on the production schedule and distribution, and setting a limit on budget, no more than $30 million. However, according to The Hollywood Reporter, Morgan Creek has been making moves on their own without the approval of Emmett/Furla, which has lead to the lawsuit.
According to the complaint, Morgan Creek set a production budget of $34 million dollars, signed film distribution deals without the approval of their production partners, and, the strangest part, have engaged an actor to play the title role without disclosing his identity. Morgan Creek EVP Greg Mielcarz has responded simply by stating that Emmett/Furla's responsibility was to pay half the budget, which they have not done. It sounds like they rejecting the other claims outright.
All of this appears to have been a result of this summer’s success of the N.W.A. biopic, Straight Outta Compton. The plaintiff’s claim that the new budget, and the request from Morgan Creek that they prove they could cover their half immediately, occurred a month after that film’s release. The implication is that Morgan Creek saw the film’s box office, and then decided they needed to kick their production into gear. Compton actually includes Tupac Shakur as a character, as played by Marcc Rose.
The lawsuit is just another in a long line of problems the production has been having. The film has moved through multiple directors, including both Antoine Fuqua and John Singleton. The latter reportedly left because of an expectation that the movie would not turn out well. The THR story does say that Carl Franklin is now on board to direct. This isn’t even Morgan Creek’s first lawsuit for this film. Back in 2009 (yes this movie has been in production that long), Tupac Shakur’s mother sued Morgan Creek, claiming the company had gone back on a previous agreement.
The film is supposedly set for a production start date in December, though this lawsuit may slow things down. After six plus years, if this movie actually gets made it may be a miracle. Tupac Shakur lead a controversial life and it appears controversy will follow wherever the story goes.