Ice Cube Offered To Put Up $2 Million To Make Friday, New Line Cinema Wanted To Fund It & Reap The Profit or Loss

The story of how 1995’s Friday got made on a $2 million dollar budget is almost as iconic as the film itself. The movie would go on to gross $300 million and make mega-stars out of Ice Cube, Chris Tucker, Bernie Mac and several others in its sequels. With so much talk about actors’ pay and how they determined who got what, a clip of John Witherspoon is making the rounds where he discusses how much Ice Cube was willing to risk on the film and how he did right by everyone in its sequels. 

Friday was written by Ice Cube and DJ Pooh and was their attempt at capturing a more light-hearted side of the neighborhoods they had grown up in. Movies like Boyz In The Hood (which also starred Ice Cube) made cities like Compton seem too menacing and dangerous and they wanted to change this. “We had fun in our hoods,” Ice Cube told media around the time of Friday’s release. 

Friday was Cube’s debut as a producer and screenwriter. Ice Cube believed in the movie so much he was even willing to put up the money for it. In a discussion with Vlad TV, John Witherspoon revealed that rapper and producer offered to fund the $2 million needed to make the film, but New Line Cinema wanted to make the investment. Witherspoon stated, “[New Line Cinema] said ain’t no sense in you losing $2 million, if the movie bomb we just take the hit. The movie grossed $300 million. And they’re not going to come back and say we made a lot of money and gonna give y’all a bonus. That’s some BS. That doesn’t happen in Hollywood.”

New Line Cinema would ultimately take on the financial brunt, but Cube retained ownership as a writer/producer. Friday would go on to make $300 million, making it a runaway success. To no surprise, the studio did not pay any bonuses to the actors despite how well the film did. 

Most of the cast only made between $2k and $10K for the first film, but its success meant Ice Cube could offer much more going into the sequel Next Friday. John Witherspoon pocked $400k while Chris Tucker was offered $10 million to return and opted not to due to religious reasons. 

Some people took to Twitter to accuse Cube of “robbing” his actors in Friday after finding how much they originally got paid, citing a misinterpreted Faizon Love interview. Fans in the know however, rushed to Ice Cube’s defense and made it clear how much he took care of the cast. 

Actor Chris Greene did the math for Cube’s followers, explaining how the original cast made so little. “On a low budget feature film like #friday scale for #actors i.e. minimum wage, is $125/8hrs. So the fact [Fazion] made $2500 over two days means he was paid over scale or made overtime. Stay out of people’s pockets folks. Why everyone is so obsessed w/ what we make is ridiculous.” Another user made sure to remind those who accused Cube of robbery that they “still owe [him] an apology.” 

Some, unaware of how misquoted Faizon was, attacked the Big Worm actor directly saying, “He may have made $2500 for being in a movie for maybe 5-10 minutes but I guarantee you he made millions from the exposure Ice Cube gave him… People need to learn to look at the bigger picture.” For comparison, one person tweeted, “Omar Epps got $12K as a lead in Juice in 1992. Tupac got $7500 for Poetic Justice in 1993 for 2nd lead role. They worked for months. Faizon worked for 2 days and got $2500 as a small role. He got off good.” 

About John Davidson

John Davidson is a California native who enjoys hip hop music, skiing and traveling international. Davidson graduated from USC majoring in Journalism.

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