Hit ‘Em Up: N.W.A. and ‘Pac Come to the Big Screen

tupacReady for a mini-genre? The success of Notorious, Fox Searchlight’s Biggie Smalls biopic, is giving producers itchy checkbooks. EW reports that the NWA story is set to come to the screen as the “urban drama” Straight Outta Compton. The Tupac library is also being raidedfor one of Makaveli’s unmade screenplays, Live 2 Tell.

Straight Outta Compton is being developed by New Line, which is looking for good times after its Lord of the Ringswindfall was followed by a string of busts and the ousting of chairmen Bob Shaye and Michael Lynne. There’s plenty of potential drama in the NWA story: the gat-rattling rhymes of architectural student Ice Cube, the opportunism of drug dealer-turned-rap mogul Eazy E, and the turntable futurism of Dr. Dre (as well as some of his awful pre-fame bomber jackets). Eazy E even gets one hell of a death scene, surrounded by crying members of Bones-Thugz N Harmony. Assuming someone can lure him away from the wii, we’re touting Chris Tucker for Eazy, while Michael Clarke Duncanseems a natural for the Vanilla Ice-troubling Suge Knight. Send all other casting suggestions to Cube and Dre, who are producing along with Eazy-E’s widow Tomica Wright.

Live 2 Tell is Tupac Shakur’s extremely personal re-imagining of Andrei Tarkovsky‘s Stalker, in which the titular guide–originally due to be played by ‘pac himself–leads a writer and a scientist to the Zone, a place where one’s deepest desires can be made real. We only wish that was true. Instead, icelebz sez it’s about “a young powerful drug lord who is trying to leave his life of drugs and crime behind.” Could it be that whenever he tries to get out, they keep pulling him back in? Shakur wrote the screenplay while serving time for sexual assault, which at least adds a behind bars frisson to the action. Producer Preston Holmes, whose films include the quality Malcolm X and Hustle & Flow, is hoping to begin filming by the end of next month.

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