Rapper Ice Cube’s beloved Friday movie franchise started in 1995 but it is still a major part of hip-hop culture nearly two decades after the series began.
The first chapter of the film trilogy started with Friday, starring Ice Cube, Chris Tucker, John Witherspoon, and Tommy Lister Jr.
Directed by F. Gary Gray and written by Cube and DJ Pooh, the film follows the story of two friends – Craig Jones (played by Ice Cube) and Smokey (played by Chris Tucker) – who live in South Central Los Angeles.
The movie takes place over the course of 24 hours. Craig has just been fired from his job and is dealing with the pressure of unpaid rent, while Smokey is facing threats from a drug dealer after accidentally smoking his weed.
Upon its release, the movie was a huge success. With a $3.5 million budget, the film grossed more than $27 million domestically – and spawned two sequels. As we reflect on the classic franchise, it's time to rank the films from best to worst – but we truly love them all.
1. ‘Next Friday’ (2000)
The first, and arguably the best sequel, in the Friday franchise is Next Friday. The movie was released in 2000 and became an instant success. According to Box Office Mojo, Next Friday raked in more than $14 million during its opening weekend – the most for any movie in the franchise.
The film sees Cube reprise his role as Craig, with Mike Epps joining the cast as Craig’s cousin, Day-Day. Following the events in Friday, Craig is forced to leave his South Central neighborhood to find solace with his uncle and cousin in Rancho Cucamonga.
In addition to being the biggest commercial success in the franchise, Next Friday helped launch Mike Epps’ career.
2. ‘Friday After Next’ (2002)
Ice Cube and his team wasted no time creating the third Friday movie, Friday After Next, which was released in 2002.
In this installment, Craig and Day-Day find themselves on a holiday-themed adventure. The pair have moved out of their family home and are living together in a questionable apartment complex.
While Friday After Next failed to achieve the same commercial success as Next Friday, it is still regarded as one of the most beloved Christmas movies of the early 2000s.
The film also introduced Katt Williams to the mainstream media. The comedian starred as Money Mike in the film, securing the role Rickey Smiley initially auditioned for.
The two comedians got into an online spat over the film in January of 2024 after Katt slammed Rickey for suggesting that he stole the part from him. Cube has since confirmed that Rickey did audition for the role, but it was offered to Katt.
3. ‘Friday’ (1995)
Although the original film finds itself last on the list in terms of commercial success, Friday is far from a bad film. With its witty humor and memorable one-liners, the original Friday remains a cult classic and the pinnacle of the series.
Despite producing a slate of memes and pop culture moments, the movie had the weakest performance at the box office. That said, at the time of its release, it was only available in 883 theatres. For comparison, Next Friday and Friday After Next, were screened in more than 1,000 theaters nationwide.
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