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The idea of a Tupac Shakur biopic has been around so long that’s it’s almost the stuff of Hollywood legend. A number of people and lawsuits have been involved in bringing the life of this 1990’s rap superstar to life. And, just when we thought things were going to get off the ground, there’s been yet another change.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, a new director, Benny Boom, is in talks to take up the directing mantle on the project. Boom has directed two other features, the 2009 comedy Next Day Air and made for video actioner S.W.A.T.: Firefight. His main work, though, has been in commercials and music videos, where he’s become well known and a go-to for hip-hop stars like Nicki Minaj and Lil Wayne.
The Tupac Shakur film, which remains untitled at this point, has been a serious contender for the biopic treatment since 2011, and it’s been a long, hard road to the screen. The movie had its greatest champion in director John Singleton, who all but defined the modern urban drama in 1991 when he wrote and directed his breakout film, Boyz n the Hood. As a part of the team behind the Tupac film since 2011, Singleton was preparing to write, direct and produce the movie for Morgan Creek as recently as early this year.
About eight months ago, though, Singleton and Morgan Creek parted ways. The studio claimed the split was their doing, while the director says the decision was all his, since the two parties couldn’t decide on an artistic vision for the film. Singleton wanted to make sure the movie did right by Shakur, who he’d worked with on film, and the rapper’s family and friends, and felt the company wasn’t interested in his version of the story.
By this time, Morgan Creek was miles down the track on the Tupac train and they quickly turned to director Carl Franklin to helm the project. But, the director of One False Move, Devil in a Blue Dress and Out of Time bailed on the project this summer. And with Morgan Creek needing to get the production under way before their rights to Tupac’s music reverted back to his mother, Afeni Shakur, at the end of the year, they couldn’t wait around to consider many other options.
Let’s hope this all gets worked out soon. After the success of Straight Outta Compton, it’s obvious that people have a solid appetite for a movie based on the struggle many hip-hop stars have had to become huge successes. Tupac was even portrayed on film in that very movie, and was also played by current Marvel star Anthony Mackie in the 2009 movie Notorious. If this movie is done right, a goal I hope that Morgan Creek and Benny Boom will share, we should get a good view into the rapper’s life and untimely, mysterious death. All that fans can ask is that they do the man’s memory justice.