It's no secret that musical biopics routinely present filmmakers with notable storytelling challenges, but few biographical movies in recent memory have received the criticism experienced by All Eyez on Me. The Tupac Shakur biopic has drawn the ire of several notable figures who knew the rapper during his life, and Gotham star Jada Pinkett Smith has emerged as one of the film's most outspoken critics because of the project's allegedly "hurtful" depiction of her relationship with Shakur. However, All Eyez on Me producer L.T. Hutton has responded to these accusations, and it seems that he stands by Kat Graham's portrayal of Smith in the film. Hutton said:
I've found interviews that [Jada Pinkett Smith] gave us in a very truthful--and sometimes when you interview people for a film things could be different--but I actually found moments of video where she spoke about him so candidly that it was like 'I have to use this.' So I found what I needed before I even designed the script.
So despite the repeated claims that All Eyez on Me doesn't accurately portray the life of Tupac Shakur or his relationship with Jada Pinkett Smith, L.T. Hutton insists that he did his homework to get the basic essence of the story right. The scenes depicting Smith and Tupac might not be 100% authentic recreations regarding every particular detail, but the film apparently strives to recreate the sentiment and core of their dynamic. Even if the scenes shown in the movie did not happen, he claims to have achieved a faithful approximation of what they meant to each other.
Moreover, L.T. Hutton stood by his assertions of the movie's quality by acknowledging that people close to Jada Pinkett Smith have endorsed the film and the fact that he harbors no ill will towards the actress. The producer continued:
Multiple best friends, and I mean, people that eat dinner with her all the time have seen the movie. They love it and they told her about it, and they told me that they explained to her and everything was great. Like, I mean this was years ago. I'm on record man, I respect the hell out of Ms. Smith, come on... Everybody watching the film, they'll tell you that I was very responsible with everyone.
Of course, we should probably note that L.T. Hutton's recent interview with TMZ acknowledged that All Eyez on Me is not a beat for beat recreation of Tupac Shakur's life. Specifically, he said that he took some artistic liberties to portray the "Holy Trinity," which consisted of who Tupac was, who he wanted to be, and who Shakur needed to be so he could survive in the rap world. That's a pretty subjective direction to take a narrative like this. Personally, I think this might poke some holes in the credibility of his claims, but it is still clear that Hutton stands by his work as a proper Tupac story.
Regardless of whether or not the film is an accurate portrayal of Tupac's life, All Eyez on Me has managed to divide critics and audiences right down the middle. It has an abysmal 24% on "Rotten" rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and CinemaBlend's review of the film isn't exactly flattering. However, it also pulled in an impressive $27 million over the weekend, which means that it has clearly found a passionate audience that's interested in this take on the story. Like Tupac Shakur himself, All Eyez on Me has proven divisive, complicated, and endlessly fascinating.
All Eyez on Me is now in theaters. For those of you on the lookout for more detailed information about the rest of 2017's major theatrical releases, check out CinemaBlend's movie premiere guide.