Already slammed by Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson and longtime Tupac Shakur pal Jada Pinkett Smith, the All Eyez On Me biopic about the hip hop icon is now taking hits from a copyright-infringement lawsuit filed in federal court.
Claiming significant portions of the film are based on interviews he did with the now-deceased Poetic Justice star more than 20 years ago, former Vibe journalist Kevin Powell wants the movie that opened June 16 via Lionsgate pulled from theaters. As well as making sure no eyes are on All Eyez, The Real World: New York alum also wants a chunk of the more than $31 million the Benny Boom-helmed pic has made at the box office since its release on what would have been Shakur’s 46th birthday.
“On June 13, 2017, in an internationally broadcast interview with The Breakfast Club, Defendant Mr. Hutton stated that ‘all of the interviews’ of Tupac Shakur were used to make the Infringing Work,” says the complaint about All Eyez producer Lenton Terrell Hutton. “There are stories with fictional characters and re-worked narratives that are unique to the Original Work that appear in the Infringing Work,” the 16-page filing asserts, pointing a curled finger at Powell’s own leaps of truth efforts then towards the movie (read it here).
Shakur was killed in a shooting in Las Vegas on September 7, 1996.
“After a great deal of thought and consultation with many, including my attorneys, I have filed a federal lawsuit against the producers and writers of All Eyez On Me the new Tupac Shakur biopic, for copyright infringement,” said Powell on Friday of the jury-seeking complaint filed in New York against the movie’s producers and scribes. “After viewing the movie twice in the past few days, it is clear that my exclusive Vibe cover stories on Tupac Shakur (when he was alive), were lifted, without proper credit or compensation of any kind to me, and used in All Eyez On Me,” adds the writer , who is planning on putting out a Tupac biography of his own next year.
“As the owner of the copyright to these articles, All Eyez On Me, infringed on my rights by using content and narrative that was exclusive to my writings,” Powell also notes. “I am seeking justice and a resolution in this matter that is fully fair to me and all the work I’ve done throughout the years, as an author and protector of the Tupac Shakur narrative.”
Lionsgate, a defendant along with producers Hutton, David Robinson, and James G. Robinson; screenwriters Steven Bagatourian, Jeremy Haft, and Eddie Gonzalez; and Morgan Creek Productions, declined comment about the lawsuit, per its policy for ongoing litigation. One of Powell’s lawyers did have something to say, though.
“Kevin Powell has consistently worked to cover and protect the Tupac Shakur narrative with integrity and dignity,” Keith White told Deadline today of his client, his work and his legal move, first reported by TMZ. “To that end, Kevin took creative license to protect the complex human being that was Tupac Shakur. This included fact-specific narrative changes and character creation in an effort to protect the legacy that Tupac was still building. Kevin’s exclusive and intimate access to Tupac Shakur came as a result of the trust established over the years. The narrative that Kevin developed from many intense and exclusive moments with Tupac should not have been used in any film without Kevin’s approval and consultation.”
Brooklyn-based attorneys White and Kenneth Montgomery represent Powell in the action.