Here’s a first teaser-trailer for Morgan Creek’s upcoming Tupac Shakur biopic “All Eyez on Me,” which stars Demetrius Shipp Jr playing Tupac.
He’s joined by Danai Gurira as Afeni Shakur, Dominic L. Santana as Suge Knight, Annie Ilonzeh as Kidada Jones, Grace Gibson as Faith Evans, Jamie Hector as Tupac’s stepfather Mutulu Shakur, Kat Graham as Jada Pinkett Smith, and Jamal Woolard as Biggie Smalls.
The film’s title “All Eyez on Me” also happens to be the name of the 4th studio album by Pac, released in 1996 under Death Row Records.
Benny Boom is directing the film.
No release date has been set yet, but I’d expect a late 2016, early 2017 release.
It’s a project that’s been in movie Limbo for years, shifting hands in the process. In brief, a year ago, John Singleton exited the project as director, and was replaced by Carl Franklin, who was eventually replaced by Benny Boom – all within the space of a year.
It all started when Singleton shared that his involvement in the Tupac film had been put “on hold,” as some key items apparently still hadn’t been completely worked out: “I’m putting my involvement on hold right now because we’re trying to figure out some things,” Singleton said, adding, “I got a script and I got the blessings from his family. We’ll see…. We’ve got to get it right.”
He didn’t say what exactly was responsible for the hiatus; he didn’t explain what “things” they were still trying to figure out, other than to say: “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.”
It wasn’t very long after that when we got official word that Singleton was out and Carl Franklin was in. News of the director switch quickly traveled, and some hours later, Singleton eventually spoke publicly about it, via his Instagram page, saying the following: “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?!!”
It sounded like a legal battle was brewing – assuming one wasn’t already at its peak. Morgan Creek never did respond (at least not publicly) to Singleton’s accusations, that I’m aware of.
Announced at the end of November last fall, Franklin left the project, likely in part due to the uncertainties surrounding it, as summarized above. Taking over for Franklin was Benny Boom, the music video director turned feature film director, with 2009’s “Next Day Air” his most prominent film to date (it was also his feature film directorial debut).
And so we were back to square one… again. Although, this time, it appeared that the film was finally becoming a reality, with production launching in Atlanta soon after that announcement, which seemed sudden given that Boom was only just hired a few weeks prior to production starting. But I should mention that Morgan Creek, the company behind the film, had a good reason to act with urgency here, because music rights to Tupac’s catalog were to revert back to Afeni Shakur by the end of last year, if production hadn’t begun on the film. So the mini studio had to act quickly. And it did.
Of course we know that Afeni Shakur passed away earlier this year.
If you’re concerned about the direction that this Morgan Creek project has seemingly taken (based on Singleton’s rants above), you should know that Singleton did boast that he would make his own independently-produced Tupac movie, so there could be another one coming.
In the meantime, watch the teaser for “All Eyez on Me” below: