All Eyez On Me
- Directed By: Benny Boom
- Written By: Jeremy Haft & Eddie Gonzalez & Steven Bagatourian
- Release Date: June 16, 2017
- Domestic Distributor: Lionsgate
- Cast: Demetrius Shipp Jr., Danai Gurira, Kat Graham
Box Office Info:
|Budget: $40 million||Financed by: Morgan Creek|
|Domestic Gross: $44,922,302||Overseas Gross: $9,954,553|
All Eyez On Me began its long road to the big screen in 2009, when James G. Robinson’s Morgan Creek tried to obtain the life and music rights rights to Tupac Shakur from Amaru Entertainment, founded by Tupac’s mother, Afeni Shakur. No deal was ultimately reached and being the disagreeable creature that he ultimately is, James G. Robinson sued Amaru Entertainment with the apparent notion that litigation would scare Amaru into handing over the rights. Afeni Shakur countersued on the basis that Morgan Creek and Robinson were deliberately interfering with her negotiations with other studios that were interested, which at the time were Paramount and FOX. After two years and hundreds of thousands spent on litigation from both parties, a trial date was set for February 2011. To avoid a trial, lawyers from both parties tried to convince Afeni Shakur to settle. She met with Antoine Fuqua, who was attached as director and agreed to his creative direction of the film and settled for an undisclosed flat fee, a percentage of any profits and an executive producer credit.
Just a few months later Antoine Fuqua left the project after clashing with Robinson. John Singleton was tapped to helm the picture and left after clashing with Robinson in February 2015. As he quit he announced on Instagram: “Real talk! The reason I am not making this picture is because the people involved aren’t really respectful of the legacy of Tupac Amaru Shakur.” “How you gonna make a movie about a man when you suing his mother to get the rights to tell his story?! They have no true love 4 Pac so this movie will not be made with love! And that’s why my ass isn’t involved!”
Director Carl Franklin was then attached to the project. With the rights set to expire at the end of 2015, which would revert back to Afeni Shakur, Morgan Creek was set back from a lawsuit by their co-financier Emmett Furla Oasis — and with the fate of the biopic up in the air, Carl Franklin wisely ditched the project.
The lawsuit by Emmett Furla Oasis was from an agreement drawn up in September 2013, that saw both companies split costs evenly from a budget NOT above $30 million and Emmett Furla Oasis would have mutual input into creative decisions. As part of the complaint, Morgan Creek began negotiations with an actor to play Tupac and refused to give the man’s identity. Morgan Creek then rejected a distribution deal arranged by Emmett Furla with Open Road and then cut the company out of a new negotiation with Open Road. Morgan Creek also informed Emmett Furla that the budget would now exceed $34 million and that they would have to agree to all new terms. Emmett Furla then sued for $10 million in damages and breach of contract. Ultimately, Emmett Furla invested no money into All Eyez On Me and distribution with Open Road was never finalized.
Let’s look back at the troubled history of Morgan Creek, which had shuttered production in 2011 after a series of misfires. Morgan Creek lost a fortune from abandoning Paul Schrader’s unfinished Exorcist movie ($32 million was spent), which they eventually gave a fleeting release to in 2005 and titled it Dominion: Prequel to the Exorcist. Morgan Creek then spent an additional $52 million to redo the movie and ended up with the turkey Exorcist: The Beginning. Morgan Creek then lost a bundle on the $90 million The Good Shepherd (2006) and had two inexpensive non-performers in 2007 — Georgia Rule and Sydney White. The company suspended operations after 2007. They resurfaced in 2011 with the disaster Dream House, where James G. Robinson clashed with director Jim Sheridan, who disowned the movie. The actors refused to promote that stinker and it predictably tanked. Morgan Creek also had a major stake in the remake/prequel of The Thing in 2011, which also fizzled. 2011 looked like the end of Morgan Creek. Nothing was in their pipeline except the gestating Tupac biopic.
In October 2014, James G. Robinson sold off international rights to the Morgan Creek library for $36.75 million, which went directly into their production fund.
With Morgan Creek as the sole financier of All Eyez On Me, they partnered with Voltage Pictures to sell international rights and the pic sold out international territories — which would relieve some of the financial burden for the company. A domestic distribution deal was inked with Lionsgate, where the studio would not pay for the rights, but only for P&A expenses. The movie was then dated for June 16, which was Tupac’s birthday.
As the release date was approaching, the Shakur estate did not promote the film and was bound by contract not to disparage it — though they didn’t need to as critics mostly hated the picture. All Eyez On Me was tracking for a mid teens opening the week before its release, but despite awful notices from critics, tracking improved as the opening weekend began. It bowed against Cars 3, 47 Meters Down and Rough Night.
It came in well above expectations with a solid $26,435,354 — placing #3 for the frame led by Cars 3. Audiences enjoyed the movie far more than those paid to review it and awarded All Eyez On Me a solid A- cinemascore. Despite the positive exit polls, the movie was massively front-loaded and suffered one of the worst second weekend declines on record. It fell 78% to $5,806,975 and continued to plummet with a 68.6% third session fall to $1,824,631 — where it promptly lost most of its theater count. All Eyez On Me closed its domestic run with $44,922,302. Lionsgate would see returned about $24.6 million after theaters take their percentage of the gross. After ancillary sales, the movie should be a wash for the mini-major, though little to no profit will trickle down to Morgan Creek.
All Eyez On Me pulled in a weak $9.9 million from its international run across numerous distributors.