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Ice Cube Fights Warner Bros. Over New ‘Friday’ Movie: Script Battles, Ownership Rights, and More

Ice Cube alleges his films "are habitually underfunded in comparison with projects featuring white casts."

Ice Cube, Mike Epps,

Ice Cube and Mike Epps in “Next Friday”

New Line Cinema/courtesy Everett Collection

A new report from The Wall Street Journal reveals a heated battle between Ice Cube and Warner Bros. over “Last Friday,” the fourth film in the “Friday” comedy franchise that has been in development for nearly a decade. The two parties agreed to develop “Last Friday” in 2012, with Cube reportedly to be paid $11 million. Disagreements over the script and other issues have delayed the sequel over the years.

As reported by WSJ: “Ice Cube wants Warner Bros., owned by AT&T Inc., to surrender its rights to the ‘Friday’ property and to two other movies he made there — ‘All About the Benjamins’ and ‘The Players Club.’ Warner Bros. replied, calling the demand ‘extortionate’ and saying it won’t release rights to the valuable franchise or any other Ice Cube movies.”

Much of the tension between Ice Cube and Warner Bros. outfit New Line is over the script. Ice Cube originally set the first draft of “Last Friday” in a prison, but he claims “the studio told him prison isn’t funny.” Studio executives said “they felt the fans of the franchise wanted to see the characters in their familiar settings instead of behind bars for much of the movie.” Ice Cube wrote a second script but then got feedback he felt was “off the mark.” The actor said “he viewed the entire editing process as a way to delay getting cameras rolling.”

Ice Cube’s lawyer reportedly wrote in a letter that the studio was excessive in its notes and “a poor steward” of the franchise. The studio said in a statement that Ice Cube’s claims are “revisionist history” and blame “Last Friday” delays on “[Ice Cube’s] camp’s unwillingness to engage with the studio.”

According to WSJ: “The possibility of discrimination has also emerged as a flashpoint in the conversations. In one letter, Ice Cube’s representative wrote that movies he has done for the studio ‘are habitually underfunded in comparison with projects featuring white casts and creative teams.’ The correspondence points to other Ice Cube films he says weren’t well supported.”

A Warner Bros. spokesperson said discrimination complaints are “grounded in a libelous set of knowing falsehoods,” adding, “We strongly disagree with any claims of discriminatory treatment, and stand by our ongoing and proven commitment to support diverse voices and storytellers and will continue to do so as we move forward.”

IndieWire has reached out to representatives for Ice Cube and Warner Bros. for further comment. Read more about the tension over “Last Friday” at The Wall Street Journal’s website.

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