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Tupac biopic lines up new director with production deadline looming

With time running out on music rights, the long-in-the-works film looks to Benny Boom

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    Production house Morgan Creek has been attempting to get a biopic about Tupac Shakur off the ground for some time now. The film originally had John Singleton attached as director, but he left because, in his words, “the people involved aren’t really respectful of the legacy of Tupac Amaru Shakur.” Singleton moved on to begin work on his own version of Tupac’s tale, while Carl Franklin stepped in for Morgan Creek’s production. Now, it appears Franklin has also quietly stepped away, and a third director is taking over the film.

    The Hollywood Reporter has the story that Benny Boom has entered negotiations to helm the biopic. Boom is known primarily for his career in music videos, winning the BET Director of the Year award in 2009 and working with the likes of Nicki Minaj (“Beez in the Trap”, “High School”), Meek Mill (“All Eyes on You”, “Ima Boss”), and Lil Wayne (“Hustler Musik”). He has two feature films under his belt: the 2009 action comedy Next Day Air and 2011’s direct-to-video sequel S.W.A.T.: Firefight.

    Boom comes onboard following Franklin’s exit from the project in late October when producers Randall Emmett and George Furla filed a $10 million lawsuit against Morgan Creek. The suit alleges that the company breached a co-production deal when it selected a lead actor, set a budget, and created a production schedule without seeking Emmett/Furla’s approval. The fact that they’ve engaged an actor for the role of Tupac is new information, though exactly whom they’ve hired hasn’t been revealed.

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    Even without the lawsuit, Morgan Creek is under intense pressure to begin production on the film. If they can’t get things started by December 31st, the music rights will revert back to Afeni Shakur, Tupac’s mother. They also have competition from Singleton’s version as well as one from the Straight Outta Compton filmmakers. Screenwriter S. Leigh Savidge, who is credited with creating the story for Straight Outta Compton, is currently shopping a script called Welcome to Death Row. Described as a companion film to Compton, the script recounts Shakur, Snoop DoggNate Dogg, Warren G., and Kurupt’s rise to dominance during the early ’90s, a particularly dangerous and tumultuous time in hip-hop history.

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