As it wouldn’t be a Tupac story without one, a turf war has broken out between two rival Tupac biopics, each vying for survival and/or the sudden death that will make it immortal. John Singleton’s Tupac already has a distributor, the backing of Shakur’s mother, Afeni Shakur, the rights to Tupac’s music, and the personal insights of Singleton himself, who worked with Tupac on 1993’s Poetic Justice. The newly announced The Rise And Fall Of Makavelli The Don has a script by Tupac’s cousin, William Lesane, “a commitment of $15 million to shoot in New Mexico”—the heart of Tupac Country—and that title.
Beyond that, it’s unclear what this, the latest in a now-predictable string of competing music biopics, has going for it, though Lesane insists that his film will “tell the real Tupac Shakur story, the movie his fans really want to see. Any movie that is produced about Tupac has to tell a truly great story with a bold statement attached. Our movie does that in spades.” With Singleton’s movie already covering Shakur’s childhood through his rap career through his murder in Las Vegas, it’s not clear what Lesane’s idea is of the movie story his fans really want to see, if not that.
Still, Lesane—who also worked as Tupac’s personal assistant—claims a unique perspective, saying, “I lived this story with my cousin and paid tremendously for it,” possibly referring to his being caught up in gang violence, or to how he’s spent his years attending kite festivals and submitting to poorly filmed YouTube interviews.
As Deadline points out, it seems likely that Singleton’s Tupac movie—which is already pretty far along—will end up killing Lesane’s Tupac movie. Or perhaps Lesane’s Tupac movie will escape to live out the rest of its days in Cuba, its legend only growing.