Ah, you gotta love big Hollywood studios and their need to take creative control over popular productions. Warner Brothers have not been a stranger to these large-scale film hijackings. The most notorious case of the studio’s takeovers was with DC film franchises, except for Shazam!, we have all seen where it has lead. Now entertainer Ice Cube is fighting for creative rights for his widely beloved Friday, with its 4th sequel.
Ice Cube’s Film Rights Battle
Ice Cube initially launched the Friday series in 1995 in the hopes of shining a positive light on living in the hood. He wanted it to be fun and wanted to show highlights from the people and situational humor he came to love while growing up. He did so to wide success. After releasing two successful sequels, Ice Cube wanted to tackle a fourth…and that was a decade ago. He has been fighting Warner Brothers ever since.
Ice’s ‘Last Friday’
Last Friday has been in production Hell for over a decade. A lot of the coverage has tried to paint an equal light to make both parties appear guilty, but in all honesty, Warner Brothers aren’t looking too good right now. The biggest claim has been to the script’s rights, due to Warner Brothers thinking they know best about “cultural appropriation.” Most of this has been centered around Ice Cube wanting most of the new film to take place in prison. Warner Brothers didn’t like it and have claimed that jail isn’t funny.
Jail is not funny, sure, but the whole point of comedy is to create a satire on the things that make us miserable. It finds light in dark places for us. Why doubt Ice Cube, especially if this film franchise is his child? It’s his. Who is Warner Brothers to harp on that? “Jail isn’t funny.” I guess they shouldn’t have distributed such prison comedies as Get Hard (2015), Pros and Cons (1999), Doin Time (1985), etc. *Shrugs* Well, they have the distribution rights, and therefore Ice Cube’s work is in fact theirs. Warner Brothers doesn’t just own the rights to the Friday series, but also 2 other films that Ice Cube has made under the studio. All about the Benjamins and The Players Club. Ice Cube managed to re-write the script out of the jail setting…and Warner Brothers still felt it was off the mark.
Warner Claims “Revisionist,” which is “Revisionist”
Sadly, and legally, Warner Brothers do own these as well. However, the breach of ethics is where the problem lies. Ice Cube has claimed that all of his productions have been underfunded compared to films made by white filmmakers and casts. In response, Warner Brothers have accused him of being revisionist…and that’s just icky. Knowing Hollywood’s lack of representation of people of color, many fans have called it BS. If they are accusing him of “libel,” why not sue him for “libel”? Warner Brothers have also called Ice Cube “a poor steward” to the franchise. Ice Cube is not Denethor (Lord of the Rings); he is the creator of these beloved films, knows these characters, knows this world, and Warner Brothers clearly do not. It IS Ice’s film. Just not on paper.
The future of the Friday film series is unknown. Whether or not the films will get a final installment and conclusion with Final Friday remains uncertain. As long as Warner owns the rights, it may not happen.