Hip-hop at the movies: rappers produce reel profits on the silver screen. (The hip-hop economy: part 2 of a series).FADE IN: THE EXTERIOR OF A MOVIE THEATER AT A SUBURBAN MALL. SCORES OF young black and white moviegoers stand in a block-long line, anxiously waiting to see the latest action-adventure flick. The movie is Exit Wounds, a cops-and-drug-dealers shoot 'em up. Not surprisingly, the film features martial artist Steven Seagal. But this time the audience is not buying tickets to see the action icon. They've come for the star who shares top billing: DMX See DMX512. , the craggy-voiced, chart-busting rapper who possesses much attitude--and fans to boot.
When the film was released last year. DMX had produced more action off screen. Exit Wounds, budgeted at $20 million, grossed $52 million in domestic box office receipts and another $34.2 million in video rentals. As a result. DMX, a platinum-selling hip-hop artist, emerged as a bona fide [Latin, In good faith.] Honest; genuine; actual; authentic; acting without the intention of defrauding.
A bona fide purchaser is one who purchases property for a valuable consideration that is inducement for entering into a contract and without suspicion of being action hero, which is clear by his recent movie offers and $4 million asking price.
DMX represents the latest wave of hip-hop artists who have taken Hollywood by storm. This summer, and in months to come, expect a repeat of Exit Wounds' success as long lines In communications, circuits that are capable of handling transmissions over long distances. of young fans wait to see the next film spotlighting rappers who moonlight as actors. Hip-hop artists such as Ja Rule, Naughty By Nature's Treach, Busta Rhymes Trevor Smith (born on May 20 1972), better known as Busta Rhymes, is an American hip hop musician and actor. Chuck D of Public Enemy gave him the name Busta Rhymes (from former NFL wide receiver George "Buster" Rhymes) after watching him perform. , Queen Latifah
Bow Wow was born in Columbus, Ohio to Teresa and Junie Moss. . and LL Cool J will be coming to a theater near you in everything from thrillers to romantic comedies. Why are these performers getting so much screen time? They sell tickets--loads of them.
As part of BLACK ENTERPRISE'S series on the Hip-Hop Economy, this second installment explores the culture's expanding influence on the $8.4 billion movie industry. In a business where studio execs covet cov·et
v. cov·et·ed, cov·et·ing, cov·ets
1. To feel blameworthy desire for (that which is another's). See Synonyms at envy.
2. To wish for longingly. See Synonyms at desire. a sure thing, hip-hop artists bring hordes of young black, white, and Latino moviegoers to urban and suburban theaters. In fact, hip-hop artists have appeared in some of the highest grossing and most profitable films in Hollywood (see chart). "Studios are finding out that rappers have a persona and a built-in following." says Ben Ramsey Ben Ramsey (1903-1985) was a Texas politician who served in a succession of offices during the mid-20th century. He served in both Houses of the Texas Legislature, as secretary of state, lieutenant governor, and railroad commissioner. , a movie director who uses hip-hop artists in his films.
Moreover, rappers usually appear on a film's sound track, enabling producers to use hip-hop music to market the movie as well us generate hefty ancillary revenues through CD sales (see chart). Asserts filmmaker Michael McCants about the tie-in between marketing and casting: "[Studios] get to knock off to cease, as from work; to desist.
- De Quincey.
To force off by a blow or by beating.
To assign to a bidder at an auction, by a blow on the counter.
To leave off (work, etc.).
See also: Knock Knock Knock Knock two birds with one stone."
LIGHTS! CAMERA! RAPPERS!
Hip-hop's influence on film can be traced as tar back as 1982 when the rap classic Wild Style, starring Fab Five Freddy Fred Brathwaite (born 1960), more popularly known as Fab 5 Freddy, is a Hip hop historian, Hip hop pioneer and former graffiti artist. He was active in New York City in the 1970s and early 1980s. He is credited with helping to broaden the exposure of rap beyond The Bronx. and the Rock Steady Crew Rock Steady Crew is a breakdancing crew and hip hop group that was established in the Bronx borough of New York City in 1977. The New York Times calls the Rock Steady Crew "the foremost breakdancing group in the world today". , was released. But movies didn't become a commercial vehicle for hip-hop artists until 1985 with the release of Krush Groove. Loosely based on the genesis of rap mogul Russell Simmons' Def Jam Records, the movie was designed, in part, to promote then-fledgling acts LL Cool J and Run-DMC. The movie's smash success was quickly followed by such fare as Beat Street, which featured Doug E. Fresh and DJ Kool
DJ Kool (born John W. Bowman, Jr.) is a rapper in the late 1990s who produced various popular rap singles. Herc, and Disorderlies, which starred the Fat Boys in a hip-hop equivalent of The Three Stooges Three Stooges
U.S. comedy team. It was originally formed as a vaudeville team in 1923 by brothers Moe and Shemp Howard (1897–1975, 1900–55), who performed with “Ted Healy and His Stooges. . Those films, however, were mostly targeted to African American African American Multiculture A person having origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa. See Race. audiences. And at that point, hip-hop's impact on mainstream films had been limited to rap music rap music or hip-hop, genre originating in the mid-1970s among black and Hispanic performers in New York City, at first associated with an athletic style of dancing, known as breakdancing. featured on motion picture sound tracks.
Then in 1990 House Party, which starred the high-spirited and lively Kid 'n Play, demonstrated the mass appeal and cinematic reach of the hip-hop community. Released by New Line Cinema, the teen film grossed more than $26 million on a $2.5 million budget. Not bad considering director Reginald Hudlin had to persuade rap-shy executives to cast the hip-hop duo.
Movies such as House Party and a string of films set in the hood, including Juice, New Jack City, and Boyz N the Hood, turned into a profitable market. House Party 2 and 3 made more than $19 million each. The series still lives on in the direct-to-video market with House Party 4. in which the now-geriatric Kid 'n Play have been replaced by the youthful R&B act IMX IMX In My eXperience
IMX Interactive Music Exchange (TV show)
IMX Integrated Multimedia Exchange
IMX Industrywide Mortgage Exchange
IMX Intermodal Marketing Extension
IMX Inverse Multiplexor .
Over the last decade, studio executives have not only become more comfortable with casting rappers, they've become downright insistent. Hip-hop artists give films a built-in audience, as did former football stars Fred Williamson Fred "The Hammer" Williamson (born March 5, 1938 is an American actor and former professional football player, a star defensive back in the AFL during the 1960s. Biography
Playing career and Jim Brown
James Nathaniel Brown (born February 17, 1936) is an American former professional football player who has also made his mark as an actor and social activist. for '70s "blaxploitation blax·ploi·ta·tion
A genre of American film of the 1970s featuring African-American actors in lead roles and often having antiestablishment plots, frequently criticized for stereotypical characterization and glorification of violence. " films, and comedians Richard Pryor, Eddie Murphy Edward "Eddie" Regan Murphy (born April 3, 1961) is an Academy Award nominated, Golden Globe Award-winning American actor and comedian. He was a regular cast member on Saturday Night Live from 1980 to 1984, and has worked as a stand-up comedian. , and Whoopi Goldberg Whoopi Goldberg (born November 13, 1955) is an American actress, comedian, radio presenter, and author.
Goldberg is one of only ten individuals who have won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony Award, counting Daytime Emmy Awards. for comedies during the late '70s and early '80s. Rappers, however, bring the Hip-Hop Economy--a worldwide multicultural youth segment. And it is the audience that movie studios live and die by.
For filmmakers, the added bonus of using hip-hop acts is that, as a result of creating personas through music videos, a number of rappers have developed substantial acting chops. "In the case of Kid 'n Play. they had what I think rap tends to have an abundance of--natural actors," says Hudlin. "Rapping [requires] a lot of the same talents that you look for in a good actor."
STEALING THE SHOW
Today hip-hop is having such an impact on the movie industry that inclusion of a rap artist may mean the difference between a studio executive green lighting a film or shelving a project. This summer, for example, Screen Gems is releasing the crime drama Love and a Bullet as a vehicle for Treach, who co-starred in the 1994 film Jason's Lyric. "Having Treach absolutely helped to get Screen Gems to pick up the movie," says Ramsey, co-director of the independent project.
Some hip-hop performers are such hot commodities, they've become mainstream stars in their own right. Take Will Smith, the artist formerly known as The Fresh Prince. Since starring in the 1996 sci-fi blockbuster Independence Day, his films have grossed close to $1 billion. Smith's success has put him among black acting's elite alongside the likes of Denzel Washington Denzel Hayes Washington, Jr. (born December 28, 1954) is a two-time Academy Award and Golden Globe Award-winning American actor and director. He has garnered much critical acclaim for his portrayals of several real-life figures, such as Steve Biko, Malcolm X, Rubin "Hurricane" , Morgan Freeman, Samuel L. Jackson “Samuel Jackson” redirects here. For the senator from Indiana, see Samuel D. Jackson.
Samuel Leroy Jackson (born December 21, 1948) is an American Academy Award-nominated and BAFTA-winning actor. , and Halle Berry Halle Maria Berry (IPA: /ˈhæliː ˈbɛriː/) (born August 14, 1966) is an American actress. . His star power has also made him a member of the $20 million club--a cadre of actors like Mel Gibson Noun 1. Mel Gibson - Australian actor (born in the United States in 1956)
Mel Columcille Gerard Gibson, Gibson
U.S.A., United States, United States of America, US, USA, America, the States, U.S. , Harrison Ford, and Julia Roberts who receive that sum per film. To top it off, Smith recently received an Academy Award nomination for his portrayal of former heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali--a feat never before achieved by a hip-hop artist. In addition, Smith creates marketing fodder for his film bit producing songs tied to his movies. To promote Men In II, he is producing a new single, Black Suits Comin' (Nod Ya Head). He took a similar approach when the first Men In Black movie and Wild Wild West were released, producing singles for both movie sound tracks.
Since Smith is a megastar, he can command top dollar in salary and budget on any project he wants. Other hip-hop artists may not have the same level of clout but have demonstrated the ability to flex their muscle in Hollywood. Rap veteran LL Cool J has developed an celluloid track record over the last decade. In addition to a television series, In the House, he has appeared in some 19 films ranging from targeted fare such as In Too Deep and Kingdom Come to mainstream films like Any Given Sunday and Deep Sea. Now, LL has entered into an exclusive group of performers who instill in·still
To pour in drop by drop.
instil·lation n. confidence in filmmakers and studio execs alike. Maintains Gary Hardwick, who directed LL in episodes of In the House and the new the romantic comedy Deliver Us From Eva: "When I brought the film to New Line, I already had [actress] Gabrielle Union, but they didn't agree to take on the project until I got LL Cool J."
What makes actors such as Smith, LL, and Queen Latifah so accessible isn't just their music, but the fact that millions of viewers got to know them when they were beamed into homes week after week on sitcoms. "In the beginning, LL Cool J was a rapper who started acting," says Hardwick. "Now, he's an actor who used to rap." The same is true for hip-hop's royal highness “HRH” redirects here. For other uses, see HRH (disambiguation).
Royal Highness (abbreviation HRH) is a style (His Royal Highness or Her Royal Highness); plural Royal Highnesses (abbreviation TRH, Queen Latifah, who co-starred on the hit TV series Living Single and in the 1996 film Set it Off. Latifah, the lone female of this trend, later went on to host her own talk show but may have found her niche in films. She's co-starring in In the Houze, a comedy with Steve Martin Noun 1. Steve Martin - United States actor and comedian (born in 1945)
Martin slated for release next year.
Toby Emmerich, president of production of New Line Cinema. which has probably released more movies featuring rap artists or focused on the hip-hop culture more than any major studio: "Hip-hop is more mainstream than ever before, and we are seeing studios spending more on these types of films."
COOL RAPPER, HOT PROPERTY
New Line has developed an extremely profitable relationship with Ice Cube, the edgy Priority Records hip-hop artist who developed a solid reputation as a topflight top·flight
topflight adj → de primera (categoría or clase)
topflight adj → screenwriter and actor. New Line signed a multi-picture deal with the former NWA NWA Northwest Airlines (ICAO code)
NWA Northwest Arkansas
NWA National Wrestling Alliance
NWA National Weather Association
NWA National Works Agency (Jamaica)
NWA Network Analyzer front man. The first Film, Friday, was a huge commercial success. Budgeted at a miniscule min·is·cule
Variant of minuscule.
Adj. 1. miniscule - very small; "a minuscule kitchen"; "a minuscule amount of rain fell"
minuscule $3.5 million. Friday grossed an impressive $27 million when it was released in 1995. The sequel, Next Friday Next Friday is the 2000 sequel to Friday , which depicts the neighborhood of South Los Angeles in a comedic sense. The hero, Craig Jones (Ice Cube), leaves home and moves in with his lottery winning and sex-crazed Uncle Elroy (Don "D.C." Curry) in Rancho Cucamonga. , budgeted at $9.5 million, produced even greater ticket sales, taking in $57 million at the box office.
Because of the success of those movies, Ice Cube's production company, Cube Vision, has been able to snare snare (snar) a wire loop for removing polyps and tumors by encircling them at the base and closing the loop.
n. some of the biggest budgets to produce movies aimed at African Americans. New Line spent $22.9 million to make the action comedy, AU About the Benjamins, which like the Friday trilogy, was produced by and starred Ice Cube. In its first two weeks Benjamins grossed $18 million. "Cube brought that to us as a complete film," says Emmerich. "He said, `Here is the script. I want Kevin Bray to direct. Are you guys in?'"
Ice Cube's upcoming Friday After Next has a budget exceeding the gross profits of Next Friday. New Line plans to spend north of $60 million to make and market the film, which is scheduled for release in November release. The studio upped the ante because Ice Cube's success rate is so high. "Cube has a .750 batting average. In baseball, if you bat a .400, you ate going to the hall of fame. A guy like that you want to keep saying yes to," says Emmerich. Universal has been following the trend by attempting to mine such potential in Def Jam artists Method Man and Redman. (The company provided a $12 million bankroll bank·roll
1. A roll of paper money.
2. Informal One's ready cash.
tr.v. bank·rolled, bank·roll·ing, bank·rolls Informal for the duo's Film How High, which grossed $31 million when it was released earlier this year.)
FIGHTING THE POWER
But Ice Cube is clearly an exception to the rule. Hollywood studios are still resistant to giving African American filmmakers the benjamins they need for film production and marketing--rappers or not. Love and a Bullet's Ramsey says hip-hop artists don't always translate into financing. "We put up the budget out of our pockets." he says. "Screen Gems just stepped in and bought and distributed it."
Veteran filmmaker Ernest Dickerson's challenge was gaining a sufficient marketing push to ensure that Bones, a horror film starring rapper Snoop Dogg, was a hit. "The budget for Bones was $10 million, and it grossed around $2.5 [million opening weekend]," says Dickerson, who also wrote and directed Juice. New Line's marketing execs, he maintains, took the approach of, "Put a rapper in a film, and the audience will come." But this field-of-dreams strategy left theaters with empty seats since fans didn't know Bones had been released, says Dickerson. "I had people call me weeks after the film was out of the theater and ask me when is the movie coming out."
In defending New Line's strategy, Emmerich says it "tested the movie, and the only audiences that really liked and supported Bones tended to be younger African Americans." As a result, the movie received weak marketing support and limited theater release.
The films that produce the greatest commercial success are those that make full use of a hip-hop artist's celebrity and talent. For example, when Warner Bros BROS Brothers
BROS Benefits and Retirement Operations Section (King County, Washington)
BROS Barnes and Richmond Operatic Society (London, UK) . marketed Exit Wounds, not only did the studio prominently feature DMX in the film's trailer and on the poster (above Steven Seagal) it also used the rapper's hit single, No Sunshine, in television commercials and featured the music video on DVD DVD: see digital versatile disc.
in full digital video disc or digital versatile disc
Type of optical disc. The DVD represents the second generation of compact-disc (CD) technology. and VHS (Video Home System) A half-inch, analog videocassette recorder (VCR) format introduced by JVC in 1976 to compete with Sony's Betamax, introduced a year earlier. versions of the movie.
Rapper-entrepreneurs such as No Limit's Master P and Roc-A-Fella's Jay-Z and Damon Dash produce movies, most of which are direct-to-video, as another means of marketing their roster of artists, ancillary products, and apparel (see the first part of this series, "Hip-Hop Economy," May 2002.)
In assessing the infusion of hip-hop into the motion picture industry, Hardwick maintains that many studio executives will continue to view a rapper who sells 30 million records as more marketable than a more talented actor. `That is the nature of the business," Hardwick asserts. "It's our job [as filmmakers] to keep them aware of the art."
Fade to black.
It's A Rap Top 25 Films Featuring Hip-Hop Artists No. Film Artist Studio 1 Independence Day Will Smith Fox 2 Men In Black Will Smith Sony 3 The Fast & the Furious Ja Rule Universal 4 Wild Wild West Will Smith Warner Bros. 5 Enemy of the State Will Smith Buena Vista 6 Save the Last Dance Fredro Starr Paramount 7 Any Given Sunday LL Cool J Warner Bros. 8 Deep Blue Sea LL Cool J Warner Bros. 9 Shaft Busta Rhymes Paramount 10 The Bone Collector Queen Latifah Universal 11 Anaconda Ice Cube Sony 12 Bad Boys Will Smith Sony 13 Three Kings Ice Cube Warner Bros. 14 Ali Will Smith Sony 15 Boyz N the Hood Ice Cube Columbia 16 Next Friday Ice Cube New Line 17 Romeo Must Die DMX Warner Bros. 18 Halloween: H2O LL Cool J Miramax 19 Finding Forrester Busta Rhymes Sony 20 Exit Wounds DMX Warner Bros. 21 New Jack City Ice T Warner Bros. 22 Higher Learning Ice Cube/ Sony Busta Ryhmes 23 Set It Off Queen Latifah New Line 24 How High Method Man/ Universal Redman 25 Monster's Ball P. Diddy Lionsgate No. Film Year Gross * 1 Independence Day 1996 $306 2 Men In Black 1997 251 3 The Fast & the Furious 2001 145 4 Wild Wild West 1999 114 5 Enemy of the State 1999 112 6 Save the Last Dance 2001 91 7 Any Given Sunday 2000 76 8 Deep Blue Sea 1999 74 9 Shaft 2000 70 10 The Bone Collector 1999 67 11 Anaconda 1997 66 12 Bad Boys 1995 66 13 Three Kings 1999 61 14 Ali 1995 58 15 Boyz N the Hood 1991 58 16 Next Friday 2000 57 17 Romeo Must Die 2000 56 18 Halloween: H20 1998 55 19 Finding Forrester 2000 52 20 Exit Wounds 2001 52 21 New Jack City 1990 48 22 Higher Learning 1995 38 23 Set It Off 1997 36 24 How High 2002 31 25 Monster's Ball 2002 31 * DOMESTIC IN MILLIONS OF DOLLARS SOURCE www.variety.com SET IT OFF BUDGET: $9 MILLION GROSS: $36 MILLION PROFIT %: 75% BONES BUDGET: $10 MILLION GROSS: $7.3 MILLION PROFIT %: -36% DEEP BLUE SEA BUDGET: $60 MILLION GROSS: $73.6 MILLION PROFIT %: 18.5% NEW JACK CITY BUDGET: $8.5 MILLION GROSS: $47.6 MILLION PROFIT %: 82% HOW HIGH BUDGET: $12 MILLION GROSS: $31.2 MILLION PROFIT %: 61.5% BOYZ `N THE HOOD BUDGET: $6 MILLION GROSS: $57.5 MILLION PROFIT %: 89.6% FRIDAY BUDGET: $3.5 MILLION GROSS: $27.4 MILLION PROFIT %: 87.2% HOUSE PARTY BUDGET: $2.5 MILLION GROSS: $26.4 MILLION PROFIT %: 90.5% EXIT WOUNDS BUDGET: $33 MILLION GROSS: $51.8 MILLION PROFIT %: 36.3%