Burn Hollywood, Burn
While on tour Ice Cube with DJ Pooh began to formulate ideas of portraying their neighbourhood in a different, less violent light than the Boyz N The Hood, Menace II Society glooms. They wanted to show the way they perceived South Central LA from when they were children. Together they began writing for different characters and came up with a film called ‘Friday’. This was set to become an instantaneous bud smokers’ cult classic. Cube and Pooh completed the script by the end of touring and presented it to New Line Cinema who allowed them everything they needed for the project and total creative control. The film was shot in 20 days with a budget of $3.5million which became the most profitable film that year for New Line. This opened the books for Cube to now write, direct and produce his own movies with the same ease and pleasure of releasing a ghetto-gangsta rap record.
Directed by South Central LA’s F. Gary Gray and produced by Patricia Charbonnet starring comedian Chris Tucker, John Witherspoon and Nia Long, Regina King and Tiny Lister Jr. The film is set on 126th street in South Central between Normandie and Halldale Ave. which remains almost identical today apart from some houses painted differently. The movie depicts an average Friday in the hood, 16 hours of misadventures between two friends Craig Jones (Ice Cube) and Smokey (Chris Tucker). Craig loses his job the day prior and Smokey convinces him to sit around and get high off marijuana while trying to find a solution to paying off Smokey’s local dealer, or else suffer consequences of death for the pair. As well as keeping out of reach of local bully Debo (Tiny Lister Jr.) The comedy rolls through as both get more stoned and ends with a high moralistic teaching. Friday had become a new-age blaxploitation film and received with open arms within the black and rap-fan community. Dr. Dre assisted Cube for the soundtrack production. The film was released April 26th, 1995. The film was nominated at that year’s MTV Movie Awards for Best Breakthrough Performance, and Best Comedic Performance to Chris Tucker as well as Best On-Screen Duo to Ice Cube and Chris Tucker.
After various other musical and film projects in 2000 Cube returned to the ‘hood for the sequel to Friday calling it Next Friday again depicting South Central in a comedic manner. This time Cube invited Steve Carr to direct the film while he wrote and produced it under his new film production company Cubevision for a budget of $9,500 000 released on New Line Cinema on January 12th, 2000. The biggest draw card of Friday Chris Tucker was not available for the follow-up as he had turned into a born-again Christian and chose to star alongside Jackie Chan in Rush Hour. The character Craig explains Smokey has gone away to rehab.
This time Craig moves out of the neighbourhood to live with his lottery-winner Uncle Elroy (Don D.C. Curry) in the suburbs of Rancho Cucamonga in the San Bernardino County 39 miles east outside of Los Angeles. Here Craig pairs up with his less street-smart cousin Day-Day (mike Epps) in a mansion house right next door to a house of Latino gang member brothers. Craig helps Day-Day out with a recurring problem with his pregnant ex-girlfriend and winds up in his own troubles when he dates the Latino brothers’ sister Karla (Lisa Rodriguez) and raises money to prevent Uncle Elroy’s house going up for auction. Again bully, Debo (Tiny Lister Jr) with rapper Sticky Fingaz find their way out of prison to exact revenge on Craig. The ironic tale of leaving the gritty ‘hood of South Central L.A. and it’s troubles for the quieter life in the ‘burbs, Craig finds more trouble in Day-Day’s neighbourhood and decides to finally move back home to the peaceful streets he was raised in. Although the film did not live up to the cult-heights of the original, the film grossed a worldwide figure of $59,827,328.
Two years later Cube opened up the third instalment of the Friday trilogy, Friday After Next with a strong Christmas theme starring alongside Mike Epps and Don D.C. Curry again. The film was directed by Marcus Raboy and directed by Matt Alvarez and Ice Cube for an increased budget of $20 million under Cubevision and Cube’s script writing. This time the pair, Craig and Day-Day live together in an apartment and get up to adventures as they undertake a job at being rent-a-cop security guards at a local shopping mall to raise their own rent money after a house robber disguised as ghetto Santa Claus steals their Christmas presents and rent money. Also in the film was Terry Crews as Damon the landlady’s ex-con son and comedian Katt ‘Slickback’ Williams as Money Mike. The film was released November 22nd, 2002 as a holiday season comedy to a strictly cult-following of the Friday series and no market base was achieved outside of this box. The filmed grossed $32,983,713 at the U.S. Box Office. There is no word of Ice Cube making a fourth and final Friday instalment. However First Sunday, about two petty criminals plot to rip-off their church is scheduled for release in 2008.