The project began with writers S. Leigh Savidge
and Alan Wenkus
, who in early 2004 brought their script about NWA
to Bill Straus
, a former New Line executive turned producer. For the next two years, Straus developed it with Circle of Confusion's David Engel
, spending much of that time fighting just to get a meeting with Eazy's widow, Tomica Wright
, who controlled the music rights. Eventually, a friend got her the script. With Woods-Wright onboard, the group took the project to Toby Emmerich
, who attached Ice Cube
and his producing partner, Matt Alvarez
, who essentially took it over. "Cube and I probably in 2002 had started talking about making an NWA movie," says Alvarez. "But Cube felt he wasn't quite ready to tell that story." One reason he changed his mind: "If you don't get involved, they could do it the wrong way." Cube wanted the story to focus on the group and not just Eazy-E
, and he and Emmerich hired screenwriter Andrea Berloff
to rework the script. Attempts to persuade Dr. Dre
to join the team dovetailed with a labyrinthine attempt to buy the music rights. Executives came and went along the way (Luke Ryan, Michele Weiss, Dave Neustadter), all pushing to make the film. When F. Gary Gray
was hired to direct, and Dre agreed to become one of the producers, the team was ready to move forward. But Warners had a budget threshold. Looking at other music and African-American-themed pictures, it wanted to limit Compton's cost to the mid-teens. That was too low for the producers, who asked to take it elsewhere. "Toby was an advocate for this movie," says Alvarez. "He came out of the music business, and he'd run the music division at New Line. He would have made this no matter what." Emmerich agreed to put it in turnaround. Universal snapped it up. Writer Jonathan Herman
was brought in to rework the Berloff script, adding elements of Dre's life that had not been included in previous drafts. (Others writers, such as Cheo Hodari Coker, also contributed to the script.) Universal gave the movie a go-ahead in early 2014 - only for everything to crash again during preproduction. With costs now in the mid-$30 millions, the studio halted work until the 145-page screenplay could be trimmed. "We were at an impasse with Universal in terms of the script that we had and the amount it was going to cost," says Alvarez. "We all agreed to shut down preproduction, and worked on the script to get it down to a place where we were able to find a happy medium." Part of that happy medium involved Cube and Dre agreeing to advance some of their own money, as well as lose their up-front salaries. See more
What up, Dre?
What up, Pac?
I was about to bust niggas in the mouth with this new album.
I feel that.
Suge said you got some heat for a nigga.
[Plays Tupac a "California Love" Instrumental
Fuck wit it.
More Bounce To The Ounce
Written by Roger Troutman
Performed by Zapp
Courtesy of Warner Bros. Records Inc.
By arrangement with Warner Music Group Film & TV Licensing See more