UPDATE, 1:22 PM: Morgan Creek has confirmed Deadline’s report in a news release. It added that LT Hutton also is aboard as a producer and that the film will shoot in Atlanta.
PREVIOUS EXCLUSIVE: Emmett/Furla/Oasis Films is teaming with Morgan Creek Productions to co-finance and co-produce Tupac, creating a new urgency for the long-gestating biopic on the hip-hop icon Tupac Shakur. They are working with a script by Eddie Gonzalez and Jeremy Haft, and a new draft is expected in two weeks. Several companies battled for the rights to partner on the film with Jim Robinson’s Morgan Creek before MCP president David Robinson sealed the deal with EFO. They are eyeing a February start date and a $45 million budget. They have the rights to exploit Tupac’s musical catalog, and his mother, Afeni Shakur, will be a producer on the film.
Born in East Harlem to parents who were members of the Black Panthers, Shakur shot to fame as a hip-hop artist and an actor. That rise started with the release of 2Pacalypse Now. His gruff delivery of politically charged, in-your-face lyrics and willingness to lead the “thug life” made him highly credible in the urban music scene. It also made him a target, particularly when a feud between East Coast and West Coast rappers escalated from insults to gunfire. Tupac was gunned down on a street corner in Las Vegas in 1996, and he died six days later at age 25. Death didn’t dampen his iconic status; like Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison, it enhanced it. Posthumously, he has sold more than 75 million albums worldwide.
The movie has nearly come together in several previous incarnations with numerous directors and actors circling. Now that the money is in place, they will set a filmmaker quickly and begin casting up the film. They haven’t decided on whether to get an established young actor to play the rapper, or to make a discovery. I could certainly see a guy like Fruitvale Station‘s Michael B. Jordan crushing this one, or Anthony Mackie as well. They also haven’t yet set the film for distribution.
E/F/O’s Randall Emmett and George Furla are coming off the Denzel Washington-Mark Wahlberg hit 2 Guns, and the Sylvester Stallone/Arnold Schwarzenegger-starrer Escape Plan is coming from Summit October 18, followed by the December release of the Peter Berg-directed Lone Survivor, the Navy SEAL drama that will be released by Universal.