Ice Cube Hopes To Shut Down 'Friday,' Not Ready To Join Ruff Ryders Yet

Rapper also close to signing deal with Dr. Dre.

Debuting at #3, behind considerably larger-scale productions "Die Another Day" and the latest installment of "Harry Potter," "Friday After Next" is on pace to match or surpass previous "Friday" flicks as a box-office draw. However, the man who conceived of and stars in the franchise says that despite its success, he'd be happy to end the series.

"I'm not really worried about that," Cube said a couple of weeks ago about what the film would gross at the box office. "At this point all you could do is do a good movie and go from there. I know we got a good movie (see "With Next 'Friday' Headed To Theaters, Cube Mulls More 'Barbershop' "). Sometimes you could start playing number games and try to be #1 or try to make sure it surpasses what the other ones did, but I'm not in the game for that. I am not thinking about ['Friday'] four. No four. This is it."

At least one of the principals of "Friday" says he hopes Cube can be persuaded to change his mind.

"When we were in the editing, one day Cube said, 'This is probably gonna be the last [one],' " the film's director and longtime Ice Cube music-video helmer Marcus Raboy remembered. "I said, 'I'll bet you a $100 there's another "Friday." ' He said, 'I can't even take that bet.' We had to think of it as three as the perfect number in a set. Then you put it out there to the audiences and if the audience is saying, 'We want more, we want more,' I think that's a decision that Cube will make down the line. [He may] say, 'They want more, I'm inspired, I have a great angle on it. It feels like it can be fresh and have a purpose.' Time will tell."

Even if Cube really has laid "Friday" to rest, he said that he and his co-star Mike Epps will continue to make movies together.

"Our relationship on the set is real cool and real close," Cube said of working with Epps, who was featured in the flick "All About the Benjamins" along with the rapper. "All we do is sit around and laugh and joke on each other, kinda like kicking it. The chemistry spills over. I look at him like my little brother. It seems like it all resonates onscreen. We're looking at other things we can do to expand on it. We know people love this combination. That's what we in it for, to give the people what they want."

As for the music front, Dr. Dre almost has his former N.W.A rhyme partner on his Aftermath Records roster (see "Dr. Dre To Produce Next Ice Cube Record").

"I love music as much as I love the movie thing," Cube said. "I'm gonna be on Aftermath as soon as I get the deal signed. It's close, very close. It's just basically making sure we got a deal. We're fine-tuning the deal. We've agreed on most of the numbers."

Since the success of "Barbershop" earlier this year, the MC-turned-Hollywood-mogul says executives around Tinseltown are throwing plenty of deals at him.

"More people want to be in business, but we don't want to just take opportunities now that they're there," explained Cube, who says he still hasn't thought about the script for a "Barbershop" sequel. "I take pride in having a company called Cubevision. I don't want to mess it up because we have the opportunity to make a lot of movies real fast. A lot of quality goes into whatever we're doing. We gotta make sure the product is still very good."

Cube has no doubts about what he could do if he weren't constrained to his usual shoestring budgets.

"If they gave a $100 million, I'll damn sure make it look like $250 million," he laughed. "It's not hard to get that money on the screen and do something off the hook. I really don't need that much money. You don't need a $100 million to make $100 million."

Cube finished his next film, "Torque," less than a month ago. Although he didn't produce or write the script this time around, he did get a chance to ride motorcycles in the action flick (see "Ice Cube Switching From Barber To Biker For Next Flick").

"I'm pretty nice on them," he said about riding. "I ain't ready to join the Ruff Ryders yet, but give me three or four more months, I'll be ready. It was fun making the movie though, getting to ride hard."

"Torque" will come out in 2003, and Cube says he hopes to get back to work, either in the studio or on a movie set, in January.