*A Tupac Shakur biopic has been in the works for a number of years, with director John Singleton once on board to helm the project until he walked away from it due to the producers not respecting Shakur’s legacy. Actor Marcc Rose’s brief portrayal of Pac in the summer blockbuster, “Straight Outta Compton,” certainly piqued even more interest in a big screen telling of the slain rapper’s life.
However, the future of the biopic lies in the outcome of a lawsuit filed Wednesday by production company Emmett Furla Oasis, who accuses Morgan Creek Productions of breaching their co-production contract by selecting a lead actor and setting a budget and production schedule without Emmett/Furla’s approval. The company wants $10 million in damages.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Morgan Creek has had a Tupac biopic circulating in the industry for some time. In the complaint filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, Emmett/Furla principals Randall Emmett and George Furla say “the development of the Picture had stalled and the project was essentially dormant for a few years” by the time they became attached to the film in 2013, and signed an agreement to produce the biopic with Morgan Creek.
Both companies agreed to a production budget not to exceed $30 million, mutual approval of the production schedule, distribution and sales agreements, and sole approval for Emmett/Furla of the director (Carl Franklin recently replaced John Singleton) and the actor who would portray Shakur, according to the complaint.
Emmett and Furla say they arranged a distribution deal with Open Road Films that Morgan Creek initially rejected, but then returned to Open Road and inked a new distribution deal in violation of the producers’ agreement to mutually approve distribution.
Problems escalated a month after the release of this summer’s hit “Straight Outta Compton,” which centers on gangsta rappers N.W.A and includes Shakur (portrayed by Marcc Rose). The plaintiffs allege Morgan Creek demanded they produce immediate evidence they could pay half the film’s production budget and agree “to new and arbitrary terms that were not part of the original … agreement” or otherwise forfeit their participation in the project.
Morgan Creek later informed them that the budget for the project would exceed $34 million and when Emmett and Furla refused to cover half the production costs, Morgan Creek accused the producers of failing to come up with the money promised in the time frame required by the contract.
“Their responsibility was to come in with half the budget,” Morgan Creek evp marketing and publicity Greg Mielcarz tells THR. “That didn’t happen. End of story.”
Emmett and Furla claim Morgan Creek has breached the production agreement by “engag[ing] an actor for the title role of ‘Tupac Shakur’ without disclosing his identity” and meeting with foreign distributors.