Coming off the major success of his directorial debut, hardcore rapper/filmmaker Ice Cube has signed a two-year "first look" deal with New Line Cinema, the studio that financed and distributed his recent hit, "The Players Club."
The undisclosed deal assures that New Line Cinema will be the first studio that Ice Cube (a.k.a. O'Shea Jackson) approaches with films that he either will produce or develop over the length of the contract. This agreement would include the already planned sequel to the 1995 urban comedy "Friday," which was Ice Cube's debut as a producer and screenwriter and which did well in theaters, grossing $27.9 million.
Ice Cube first gained public notoriety and chart success in 1988 as a member of gangsta-rap pioneers N.W.A with the fierce and funky Straight Outta Compton. Cube left the group before the release of its second album and began a prolific career as a solo artist.
"I want to direct again," he told SonicNet Music News prior to the release of the hit "The Players Club," which he directed and starred in and which grossed $23 million during its showing earlier this year. "I don't care if you love or if you hate it, you know what I'm sayin', as long as you watch it and get what I was trying to say with it."
Ice Cube also said that he intended to move forward as a filmmaker.
He first hit the silver screen as an actor in 1991, portraying Doughboy in the John Singleton film "Boyz N the Hood." From there, he appeared in such films as "Trespass" with Ice-T, "The Glass Shield" with Lori Petty and "Higher Learning" with Busta Rhymes, Kristy Swanson and Omar Epps. He began taking a more active role in his film career in 1995, producing and writing "Friday" and "Dangerous Ground" in 1997.
Last year, he also appeared in the Amazon-based action flick "Anaconda" with such big-name actors as Jon Voight, Jennifer Lopez and Eric Stoltz.
In addition to acting and directing in "The Players Club," Ice Cube produced the film and the soundtrack, which was shot in April and March of 1997. "The Players Club" had a budget of $5 million and raked in $8.4 million on its opening weekend, according to Variety.
At the time, Ice Cube was careful not to indicate that he was retiring from the rap game. "There's no reason for me to stop making records and just worry about movies," he explained.
War, Ice Cube's first album of new material in four years, is due in stores this fall, with another album, Peace, scheduled to be released during the holiday season.
(Contributing Editor Teri vanHorn contributed to this report.)