In case you’re not already aware, there is a John Singleton directed Tupac Shakur biopic that has been in the making for several years now. The good news is the film was recently acquired by Open Road Films, a move that has not only sped up production, but also guaranteed the movie will be released on over 2000 screens nationwide. BOSSIP spoke exclusively to Tupac producer L.T. Hutton about what we can expect from the upcoming project and how it will be different from anything we’ve seen on the big screen so far.
BOSSIP: We’ve been hearing about the movie for a long time, but how long has it been exactly?
LT Hutton: The total process? I don’t even want to talk about that number (laughs). But honestly, about 3-4 years. Which I would say is not bad. In actual production time after we dealt with all the legal stuff, we’re only talking about maybe 2 years, because we had a few little bumps in the road. But look Marvin Gaye’s biopic STILL hasn’t been made. And a lot of these other pictures would not be getting made if I wasn’t making Tupac. Tupac put a lot of gas in a lot of projects’ tanks. (laughs). So, it hasn’t been that long. And when you add in dealing with what we have to deal with in Hollywood in general on these types of films, it’s really been short.
People don’t really understand the importance of the distribution side of things when it comes to these movies and how difficult it is to get these black films into theatres everywhere. Can you talk about the deal with Open Road?
When I go in and I pitch to my partners about what I want to do in this slate, you have to understand they are not in this world. A lot of them don’t even know who Tupac is… But for them to take a chance and say, ok, $30 million in this budget and $20 million in P&A – that’s a $50 million commitment. It’s hard to get people to commit to $50 million on anything. So for them to have faith in me and this project is a blessing in itself. The fact that I’m from the Hip Hop world and I’m able to get a picture like this done is a great day for Hollywood.
Open Road is a newer studio, but they actually own most of the theaters that the films are shown in. That makes them a different type of monster. So they’re distributing to their theaters and we have a minimum of 2000 theaters. That was just our minimum. When you talk about 3000 screens and things of that nature, you’re talking about Iron Man. So, just to know that we are getting close to Iron Man screens – which we should, but Hollywood doesn’t see it like that but we got it for this – it’s incredible and it’s an emotional feeling that people just don’t understand. Open Road gave us a deal better than most of the “big guys” out there. Their theatres are state-of-the-art and they’re trying to break this mold that I’m trying to break. They’re on board and they were fluent, passionate, quoting these Tupac lyrics — you would have been floored. But, they got it. When I looked at those guys and how they were reciting the lyrics, it was a vision of a world that Tupac saw at 24. This is 2014…Tupac had that vision that this was going to be the world right now. A lot of the moves that we’re making – I don’t like to get spooky with people – but Pac’s spirit kind of guides all of these moves.
Can you give us a picture of what to expect from the Tupac biopic?
I talk to everybody. Most of the people that were involved in his life are still my friends. With Suge, we talk every other day on different scenarios. This film is not going to be something that people just pulled out of their a**es and made up stories and say “Hey, this is what I did to make Tupac, Tupac!” We’re going to give you what Tupac did to become Tupac. What Tupac felt about this; what Tupac felt about that day; how Tupac dealt with addiction and a mother that was addicted; how Tupac still loved his mother in spite of; how he took care of his sisters; what he had to do in his trials and tribulations. This film is not set up to be self serving to anyone but Tupac.
We’re also paying tribute to how strong Afeni was to be able to go through what she went through and still raise her family. She was a victim of American society no matter what people say. She didn’t just get on drugs — she was beat down. We show that process. She didn’t just wake up and say “Hey I want to use drugs.” It may not have been the right decision, but that day she just needed a getaway. If it was that, that’s what it was, and that’s what they shoved down our throats. They give us liquor and drugs as the answer to our problems. It’s not correct, but you can’t just say she was just using drugs just to have fun and try to party. We’re not on that. I came from a household similar to Pac’s, and I know for a fact that my mother didn’t want to be where she was. She hated it. It wasn’t fun for her, but circumstances made her believe that this was her go-to. So we get into all that. It’s not a individual drug-use scenario. We make it a worldwide epidemic, because it was. My mother, his mother, this person, my aunts – we had that. So it’s a bigger issue. It’s still through Pac’s POV, but we’re dealing with world issues.
Hit the flip for more info on ‘Tupac’