Notorious B.I.G. murder case film 'City of Lies,' starring Johnny Depp, gets release date canceled
Global Road Entertainment/YouTube

Global Road Entertainment has canceled the release date of the feature film "City of Lies," starring Johnny Depp as former Los Angeles police detective Russell Poole investigating the murder of the Notorious B.I.G., who was shot to death in Los Angeles on March 9, 1997. His murder remains unsolved. "City of Lies" had been scheduled for release on Sept. 7. According to Variety, no reason was given for the movie being shelved, and Global Road has not set a new release date.

The murder of New York rapper Notorious B.I.G., also known as Biggie Smalls, was perceived by many to be part of the East Coast/West Coast rivalry that permeated hip-hop culture in the 1990s. Many people have speculated that murder of Biggie Smalls, whose real name was Christopher Wallace, is related to the still-unsolved murder of California rapper Tupac Shakur, aka 2Pac, who was shot to death in Las Vegas on Sept. 13, 1996.

The real Russell Poole, who became a private investigator after leaving the Los Angeles Police Department, died of a heart attack in 2015. In several interviews he gave over the years, Poole said he believed that members of the LAPD were responsible for the murder of Biggie Smalls or involved in a cover-up. "City of Lies," which is based on Randall Sullivan's investigative book "LAbyrinth," explored that theory.

Even before the movie's release date was canceled, "City of Lies," which also stars Oscar-winner Forest Whitaker as investigative journalist Jack Jackson, was facing a market already saturated with movies and TV specials about Biggie Smalls and Tupac Shakur.

There had been Nick Broomfield's documentary 2002 documentary "Biggie & Tupac," the 2003 documentary "Tupac: Resurrection," the 2009 Biggie Smalls biopic "Notorious" and several low-budget, straight-to-video releases.

As the murders reached their 20th anniversaries, a slew of TV shows and movies went into production to examine the rappers' lives and their untimely deaths. They included "City of Lies"; the 2017 Tupac Shakur biopic "All Eyez on Me"; A&E's 2017 documentary miniseries "Biggie: The Life of Notorious B.I.G." and "Who Killed Tupac?'; Fox's 2017 investigative special "Who Shot Biggie and Tupac?"; Oxygen's 2017 special "Snapped Notorious: Tupac Shakur"; and USA Network's 2018 anthology drama series "Unsolved: The Murders of Tupac and the Notorious B.I.G."

Oscar-winning "12 Years a Slave" producer Steve McQueen is also directing an authorized documentary about Shakur. The documentary's title and release date are to be announced.

Besides the release date cancelation, "City of Lies" has been in the news recently for a lawsuit that location manager Gregg "Rocky" Brooks filed in July 2018 against Depp for allegedly punching Brooks twice in the rib cage on the "City of Lies" set in 2017. According to Variety, Brooks claims in the lawsuit that after he told Depp to stop filming a scene because their permit had expired for the night, Depp cursed at him and assaulted him. Depp has not commented on the lawsuit.

In addition to his busy movie career, Depp is a guitarist in the supergroup Hollywood Vampires, whose lineup includes lead singer Alice Cooper and lead guitarist Joe Perry of Aerosmith. In July, Hollywood Vampires wrapped up a two-month world tour.