Tupac Shakur‘s long-awaited biopic is finally happening. Battles over the rap icon’s movie rights have been flaring up and sputtering out since Shakur’s death in 1996, but this time the money is firmly in place. And I guess that’s how you get things done, because Emmett/Furla/Oasis Films and Morgan Creek Productions have access to Shakur’s full discography, with his mother Afeni Shakur signed on as a producer.
No word yet on who’s getting that lead role. The ball hasn’t even really started rolling yet. Right now, there’s just a ball. Morgan Creek has confirmed the film will shoot in Atlanta starting in February with a budget around $45 million. The script is still being written. But these are all details compared to the fantastic news that this movie is happening. I’m not worried about the details. What worries me is who’s making it.
Having an incredible story about an incredible subject doesn’t guarantee a good movie. Notorious was, quite frankly, a disaster. Diddy executive produced the thing and he still couldn’t save it. It turned one of America’s greatest tragic heroes into a styrofoam Hollywood product that glossed over any social commentary in favor of re-upping the demand for the Biggie brand. And here we have a very similar situation, complete with the late rapper’s mom signing on as a producer to big Hollywood studios. Emmett/Furla/Oasis Films’ latest contribution to popular culture was the Denzel/Wahlberg shoot-em-up 2 Guns. I’d rather have no Tupac movie at all than something like that. Morgan Creek and EFO need to study up on what the man himself said. Step 1: Resurrection
It’s strange how we choose to remember our idols. The art they made is never enough. To make Tupac live forever we need constant reminders and holograms—we need a physical presence that we can look at, touch, and hear. A biography isn’t meant to whitewash your subject’s life. For all the wonderful things Tupac Shakur did for hip-hop and social consciousness, there was a lot of darkness there too. The idea of these films shouldn’t be to moralize. They are first and foremost tributes to the legacy left behind. Without the right director at its helm, this movie could quickly start sliding down a slippery slope.