A long-delayed Tupac Shakur biopic will begin shooting in June, according to the film’s producer, Randall Emmett. “The script is great and we’re ready to make the movie,” he recently told Collider. “We’re just prepping the logistics.”
Emmett also confirmed that the production company, Morgan Creek, has secured the rights to Tupac’s music catalog. It licensed the rights to the songs after partnering with the rapper’s mother, Afeni Shakur, who will also serve as one of the film’s executive producers.
The movie itself, Emmett said, will touch on Shakur’s upbringing and the people around him, but its primary focus will be his rise to fame. “We want to be real and raw, about the things and the gangster life that he was involved in, growing up in the way that he grew up,” Emmett said. “But we also want to honor the talent that he had because he really was, in my opinion for sure, one of the greatest talents that ever lived in music and hip-hop.”
Although the producer didn’t want to give too much of the story away, Emmett said the East Coast–West Coast rivalry — which reached its tragic apex with the shootings of Shakur and the Notorious B.I.G. in 1996 and ’97, respectively — would certainly be a part of the story, but not the primary crux.
“We had to address it because it was a big thing in the music community at that time, and the way that it’s told in our story is we almost set the origin of it,” Emmett explained. “How did it start? Why did it get to the place it got to? I was in high school and college at the time, so I’ve been so intrigued learning about it from the…consultants on the movie [who have shared] what was going on, and what was really being thought. And I hope we can show some of that in this movie.”
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Oscar-nominated filmmaker John Singleton (Boyz N the Hood, Four Brothers) is slated to direct the still-untitled film. Not only was Singleton a friend of Shakur’s but he also directed the rapper in the 1993 romantic drama Poetic Justice. With production scheduled to begin in the coming months, news regarding casting is expected to be announced soon.
The biopic was originally set to move forward in February 2011, but was delayed by a lengthy legal battle between Morgan Creek and Afeni Shakur, who fought for extensive creative control. Morgan Creek initially sued her for allegedly continuing to negotiate after their deal was completed, but Afeni then counter-sued, claiming there was no deal. Both sides eventually reached a settlement before the case went to trial in 2011.