Directed by F. Gary Gray
Initial release 13 August 2015 (Germany)
Featured song Straight Outta Compton
Music by Joseph Trapanese
Director F. Gary Gray
|Produced by Ice Cube
F. Gary Gray
Screenplay by Jonathan Herman Andrea Berloff
Story by S. Leigh Savidge Alan Wenkus Andrea Berloff
Starring O'Shea Jackson Jr. Corey Hawkins Jason Mitchell Paul Giamatti
Nominations Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay
Awards BET Award for Best Movie
Cast O'Shea Jackson Jr, Jason Mitchell, Corey Hawkins, Aldis Hodge, Neil Brown Jr
Similar Movies about rap, Movies about music, Biographies
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Straight Outta Compton is a 2015 American biographical film directed by F. Gary Gray, depicting the career of gangsta rap group N.W.A. Titled after N.W.A's 1988 debut studio album, the film focuses on members Eazy-E, Ice Cube, and Dr. Dre. Members of N.W.A were involved in making the film: Ice Cube and Dr. Dre were among its producers, as was Eazy-E's widow, Tomica Woods-Wright, while MC Ren and DJ Yella served as creative consultants. Ice Cube is portrayed by his son, O'Shea Jackson, Jr., with Corey Hawkins as Dr. Dre, Jason Mitchell as Eazy-E, Aldis Hodge as MC Ren and Neil Brown Jr. as DJ Yella. Paul Giamatti also stars as N.W.A's manager Jerry Heller.
- Straight outta compton official trailer 1 2015 ice cube dr dre movie hd
- Straight outta compton 8 10 movie clip madness in detroit 2015 hd
- Casting call controversy
- Violence on set
- Security concerns
- Home media
- Box office
- Critical response
- Reactions from the depicted
- Misogyny and omissions
Released August 14, 2015, Straight Outta Compton was a commercial and critical success, making over $200 million against its $50 million budget and being nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay. It inspired Dr. Dre's third studio album, Compton, which debuted at no. 2 on the US Billboard 200 album chart a week prior to the film's release. The film's soundtrack album, featuring music by N.W.A, debuted at no. 1 on the Rap Albums chart and reached no. 1 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. Jerry Heller filed a lawsuit against those involved with the film, protesting the way he was depicted and claiming that parts of the story had been taken from his autobiography without permission.
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In Compton, California in 1986, Eazy-E is a drug dealer, Dr. Dre is an aspiring disc jockey, and Ice Cube is a young rapper. Intrigued by Ice Cube's "reality raps" reflecting on the crime, gang violence, and police harassment that they and other African Americans encounter daily, Dr. Dre convinces Eazy-E to fund a startup record label, Ruthless Records, with Dr. Dre as record producer. When their song "Boyz-n-the-Hood" is rejected by a New York rap group, Dr. Dre convinces Eazy-E to perform it instead. It becomes a local hit, and Eazy-E, Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, DJ Yella, and MC Ren form the group N.W.A ("Niggaz Wit Attitudes").
Eazy-E accepts Jerry Heller's offer to manage N.W.A and co-run Ruthless, and Priority Records offers N.W.A a record deal. While recording their debut album, Straight Outta Compton (1988), the group are harassed by police due to their race and appearance, prompting Ice Cube to pen the song "Fuck tha Police". The album becomes a controversial hit due to its profanity and violent lyrics, and the group's style is dubbed gangsta rap by the press. During a 1989 concert tour, the FBI demands that N.W.A stop performing "Fuck tha Police" as it encourages violence against law enforcement. Police in Detroit forbid them from performing the song, and a riot breaks out when they perform it anyway.
Jerry delays the individual members' contracts with Ruthless, and when he insists that Ice Cube sign without legal representation, Ice Cube quits the group. His debut solo album, AmeriKKKa's Most Wanted (1990), becomes a hit, but when Priority Records is unable to pay him his advance on his next album, he trashes the label head's office. When N.W.A heavily insult Ice Cube on their next record, 100 Miles and Runnin' (1990), he responds with the diss track "No Vaseline", criticizing Jerry and his former bandmates and prompting accusations of antisemitism. This, combined with his association with the Nation of Islam, outspoken criticism of the Los Angeles Police Department in the wake of the beating of Rodney King, and starring role in the 1991 film Boyz n the Hood, make him even more famous and controversial.
Dr. Dre hires Suge Knight as his manager, through whom he learns that Jerry has been underpaying him. He leaves N.W.A to form Death Row Records with Suge, who has his men threaten Jerry and beat Eazy-E to pressure them to release Dr. Dre from his contract with Ruthless. Dr. Dre enjoys his newfound freedom and begins working with other rappers including Snoop Dogg. His debut solo album, The Chronic (1992), sells over five million copies, even as he becomes disturbed by Suge's violent behavior and the community is rocked by the 1992 Los Angeles riots.
Eazy-E, whose fortunes and health have declined, is devastated by the comparative success of his former bandmates. Learning that Jerry has been embezzling money from Ruthless from the beginning, he fires him and rekindles his friendships with Ice Cube and Dr. Dre, who agree to an N.W.A reunion. However, before recording can begin, Eazy-E collapses and is diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. Amid emotional visits from his bandmates, he dies on March 26, 1995 and is mourned by fans.
A year later, Dr. Dre splits from Suge Knight and Death Row to form his own label, Aftermath Entertainment. Clips shown during the film's credits highlight Ice Cube's subsequent roles as a film actor and Dr. Dre's career as a producer and entrepreneur. Several famous rappers credit Dr. Dre with helping to launch their careers, and Beats Electronics, which he co-founded, is bought by Apple Inc. in 2014 for $3 billion.
In March 2009, it was announced that the film was in development at New Line Cinema, with S. Leigh Savidge and Alan Wenkus writing, and Tomica Woods-Wright, Ice Cube, and Dr. Dre set to produce the film. In May 2010, it was announced Andrea Berloff would write a draft of the screenplay. In September 2011, John Singleton told The Playlist that he was in talks to direct the film, saying: "I can’t talk about it too prematurely about the stuff I'm doing because nothing’s come to fruition yet, but Cube and I are talking about doing the N.W.A. story. The script is really, really good, and so we're just figuring it out. New Line really wants to make it." Also in September 2011, F. Gary Gray, Craig Brewer, and Peter Berg were reportedly in talks to direct the film. In April 2012, F. Gary Gray was selected as director. Gray had worked with Ice Cube in the film Friday and Dr. Dre in the film Set It Off. He has also directed some of their music videos. By 2013, the film was picked up by Universal Studios, who, in December 2013, hired Jonathan Herman to write a new draft of the script and brought in Will Packer to executive produce, alongside Adam Merims, David Engel, Bill Straus, Thomas Tull and Jon Jashni.
Casting calls began in the middle of 2010. There had been rumors of Lil Eazy-E playing his late father Eazy-E, and Ice Cube's son and fellow rapper O'Shea Jackson Jr. playing his father as well. Ice Cube said of the movie, "We're taking it to the nooks and crannies, I think deeper than any other article or documentary on the group," he said. "These are the intimate conversations that helped forge N.W.A. To me, I think it's interesting to anybody who loves that era and I don't know any other movie where you can mix Gangster Rap, the F.B.I., L.A. Riots, HIV, and fucking feuding with each other. This movie has everything from Daryl Gates and the battering ram."
On February 21, 2014, director Gray announced a March 9, 2014 open casting call for the film in Gardena, California, via his Twitter account. There were also open casting calls in Atlanta and Chicago. Rapper YG auditioned to play MC Ren in the film. The project was scheduled to start filming in April 2014 but was pushed back due to casting delays.
On June 18, 2014, Universal officially announced that the N.W.A biopic Straight Outta Compton would be released theatrically on August 14, 2015. It was also confirmed that Ice Cube's son, O'Shea Jackson Jr., would play a younger version of his father in the film. O'Shea Jr. joined Jason Mitchell and Corey Hawkins, who portrayed group members Eazy-E and Dr. Dre, respectively. In early July 2014, casting directors for the film issued a casting call for extras and vintage cars in the Los Angeles area. The casting call release stated that filming would begin in August 2014. In July 2014, it was confirmed Aldis Hodge would portray MC Ren and Neil Brown Jr. would play DJ Yella. On August 15, 2014, Paul Giamatti joined the cast to play N.W.A's manager Jerry Heller. On August 26, 2014, Keith Stanfield joined the cast to play Snoop Dogg.
On June 16, 2015, Ice Cube revealed that a "Tupac scene" had been shot for the film. Entertainment Weekly reported that the role of Tupac Shakur in the film would be played by newcomer Marcc Rose, who was once rumored to be cast by John Singleton in his unmade Tupac biopic.
Casting call controversy
On July 16, 2014, a casting call for extras for Straight Outta Compton was released on the Sande Alessi Casting Facebook page. The casting call was looking for African-American girls for the film using an A-D ranking scale. Though the "A girls" category was looking for "classy" women of all colors, the "B through D" categories were very explicitly linked with skin-tone. As the women get less attractive, the casting call wants the women's flesh tone to be darker, with the lowest listing calling for "African American girls. Poor, not in good shape. Medium to dark skin tone." The casting call post went viral as people expressed their outrage of what they call colorism, sexism, and racism in the categorizing of black women. A representative for Sande Alessi Casting said the ad was an "innocent mistake" and when it comes to casting "poor" people, they're also looking for women of various skin tones and body types. As for the A,B,C,D grouping system, Sande Alessi Casting says "it's the usual method [they] use to look for different types of people for any project and it wasn't meant to offend anyone."
Straight Outta Compton was filmed in Compton, California and Los Angeles, California. Principal photography began on location in Compton on August 5, 2014. In early September 2014, principal exterior shooting on a large post-riot set was observed on Laurel Canyon Boulevard in North Hollywood. While shooting in California, the production spent $50 million in the state and received the California Film & Television Tax Credit.
Costume designer Kelli Jones says "the script was literally changing the entire time we were shooting, I mean literally the entire time. There would be days where I would get a call on Friday and they were like ‘oh by the way we’ve moved the pool party scene to Monday’ and the pool party scene had like 400 people and I needed to get '80s bathing suits, so there wasn’t a single weekend where me and my team were not working. It was insane!" Production Designer Shane Valentino says "We had 130 sets which is a lot of sets to try and deal with."
Violence on set
On August 12, 2014, TMZ reported that just seven days into filming in Compton, a drive-by shooting took place directly in front of the cast and crew members while they were on the set. A group of men standing outside the Compton Courthouse flashed gang signs at a passing car and passengers in the car opened fire on the group. No one affiliated with the film was injured or hurt, but one civilian near the set was shot. Despite the incident, it was announced that filming would continue to take place as planned in the city.
On January 29, 2015, Suge Knight was involved in a hit-and-run incident that left one man dead and another hospitalized. Witnesses claim that Knight followed the men after an argument on the Straight Outta Compton film set to a burger stand parking lot in Compton, and that the collisions looked intentional. Security footage video was released online in early March showing Knight running over both men but which Knight's attorney said helps his client's self-defense claim. Terry Carter, co-founder (along with Ice Cube) of Heavyweight Records and a friend of Knight, was the man killed. The second victim, filmmaker Cle Sloan, suffered a mangled foot and head injuries.
In December 2014, during a show in Sydney, Australia, Ice Cube gave concertgoers a sneak peek at a trailer for Straight Outta Compton. When an executive producer of the film, Will Packer, was asked if Cube told him he was going to show the trailer or did he "just put it out there?", Packer responded, "Cube does what he does." He added, "Cube is the man. We back him. And I love the fact that it's out there and it's getting the response that it's getting, that's what I'll say."
On February 8, 2015, Universal released the first official trailer for Straight Outta Compton. The red band trailer was preceded by an introduction featuring N.W.A members Dr. Dre and Ice Cube. A second global trailer for Straight Outta Compton was released on April 1, 2015, and was attached with theatrical screenings of Universal's Furious 7.
On August 7, 2015, to help promote the film, Beats by Dre launched a new app through the website StraightOuttaSomewhere.com. The app allows users to create a meme by uploading a picture with the "Straight Outta" logo and fill in the blank with a location of their choice. Some people did proclaim that they were "Straight Outta" a certain city or locale, while others uploaded funny images and phrases. In under 24 hours, over 78,000 "Straight Outta" images were downloaded on social media sites and over 6 million downloads were generated before the film's opening day. Inquisitr.com proclaimed, "It’s a successful viral photo campaign that is definitely bringing attention to the movie Straight Outta Compton."
Straight Outta Compton premiered on August 10, 2015 at the entertainment complex LA Live in Los Angeles, California. An earlier report by L.A. Weekly noted that the LAPD was "beefing up its presence" for the event and The Hollywood Reporter confirmed that organizers had "tripled security" for the red-carpet premiere. Due to concerns surrounding the violent content depicted in the film, it was reported that movie theaters were hiring extra security during the film's opening weekend and Universal Studios would be "reimbursing" theaters for the cost of adding that security. Universal would later state that the studio was not reimbursing theaters for extra security, but would be "partnering" with theaters seeking "support" during screenings of the film. No major incidents were reported at showings of the film during its opening weekend. Some critics said it was because of the extra security at some theaters, while others argued that it shows the extra security was unnecessary.
Straight Outta Compton was released on Digital HD on January 5, 2016 by Universal Pictures Home Entertainment and on Blu-ray and DVD on January 19, 2016. The Blu-ray and DVD includes both the theatrical version and an Unrated Director's Cut, which featured 20 additional minutes of the film.
Straight Outta Compton grossed $161.2 million in the United States and Canada and $40.4 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $201.6 million. Deadline.com calculated the net profit of the film to be $91.1 million, when factoring together all expenses and revenues for the film.
In the United States and Canada, the opening weekend projections were continuously revised upwards, starting from $25 million and going as high as $60 million. The film made $5 million from Thursday night shows, which began at 7 p.m. in 2,264 theaters. After its strong Thursday night showing, Universal was able to add nearly 500 theaters for the film's opening weekend. Straight Outta Compton made $24.1 million on its opening day, which is the fourth biggest August opening in history. It finished first at the box office in its opening weekend, earning $60.2 million from 2,757 theaters. Its opening weekend total was the fifth-best August opening weekend of all-time, the highest in August for an R-rated film, and the highest for a musical biopic. After a strong first full week showing ($84.7 million), Universal added the film to over 200 additional theaters. The film grossed $26.4 million in its second weekend and again finished first at the box office, ahead of the week's new releases Sinister 2, Hitman: Agent 47 and American Ultra.
On August 27, 2015, Straight Outta Compton became the highest grossing music biopic of all-time in the United States with $120.9 million, passing the 2005 Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line's $119.5 million total. The film grossed $13.1 million in its third weekend and, once again, finished first at the box office ahead of the week's new releases War Room, No Escape and We Are Your Friends.
On September 18, 2015 the film's domestic gross crossed $157.5 million, surpassing Keenen Ivory Wayans' Scary Movie ($157 million) to become the all-time highest domestic grossing film from a black director in the United States. By September 21, 2015, the film had grossed $188 million worldwide to become the all-time highest grossing music biopic, surpassing Walk the Line's $186.4 million worldwide gross.
Straight Outta Compton received positive reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 87% based on 210 reviews, with an average rating of 7.3/10. The site's consensus reads, "Straight Outta Compton is a biopic that's built to last, thanks to F. Gary Gray's confident direction and engaging performances from a solid cast." On Metacritic, it has a score of 72 out of 100, based on 41 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews". On CinemaScore, audiences gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale.
Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times awarded the film 3.5 stars out of 4, calling the film "enthralling" and "energized", praising the cast for delivering "strong, memorable work that transcends mere imitation." He called the film "one of the better musical biopics of the last 20 years." Lou Lumenick of the New York Post, also awarding the film a 3.5/4, called it "one of the summer's most entertaining and provocative movies", finding it "surprisingly candid" about the negatives in N.W.A.'s career for a film produced by Ice Cube and Dr. Dre themselves. Peter Travers of Rolling Stone, again giving the film 3.5 out of 4 stars, also praised the film for its honesty in its portrayal of the group and praised Jackson's performance as Ice Cube, as well as the supporting cast, finding Mitchell's Eazy-E "award-caliber". However, he did wish that the film elaborated more on the group's troubles involving misogyny, homophobia and the media. Joe Morgenstern of The Wall Street Journal found the group's musical performances to be "far and away the most appealing parts of the picture." However, he criticized the film for slowing down towards the end, particularly when it gets "ploddingly sentimental" once it focuses on the decline and death of Eazy-E.
Scott Foundas of Variety praised director Gray for taking familiar biopic paces and bringing a "richness of observation to the table that transcends cliche." He also praised the film for its "high but never overindulgent" style and the attention to detail in the production, ranging from the "exhaustively researched" screenplay to the "meticulous care" involved in assembling the film's soundtrack. He stated, "if "Compton" is undeniably of the moment, it’s also timeless in its depiction of how artists and writers transform the world around them into angry, profane, vibrant and singular personal expression." Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune stated, "Straight Outta Compton at its best evokes the heady atmosphere of Crenshaw Boulevard and what the group’s success meant to Compton, and vice versa. When the songs themselves take center stage the movie works. What remains in the wings constitutes another, fuller story."
In a polarized review, Kenneth Turan of the Los Angeles Times felt that the film attempted to take on more storylines than it could handle, also criticizing how bloated it becomes towards the end regarding Heller, though he did praise Giamatti's performance. Jordan Hoffman of The Guardian also criticized the film's second half for being "cheesy" and "[playing] it too safe". Ignatiy Vishnevetsky of The A.V. Club gave the film a C, feeling it had to rely on its timeliness for its thematic weight, and saying the film "simplifies N.W.A.’s arc to a gangster-movie knock-off about three friends from way back when who are driven apart by bad influences." The Washington Post noted the film's "lack of interest in process and personality" compared to the concurrently-released music biopic Love & Mercy, writing: "it’s no contest as to which Giamatti picture is the better depiction of the actual music-making process."
According to a poll conducted by Rentrak during the film's opening weekend, audiences gave the film a full 5 out of 5 stars, a rare achievement for any film, with most box office mega-hits usually rated at between 4 or 4.5 stars in the previous Rentrak polls. The film is very popular among the female moviegoers, with 74% of the male and 76% of the female audience giving the film a definite recommend – very high marks in Rentrak. The subject matter and plot were the primary reasons given by 38% of moviegoers for coming out to see Straight Outta Compton.
Reactions from the depicted
On June 10, 2015, MC Ren took to Twitter to voice his displeasure at the lack of exposure his character has in the Straight Outta Compton trailer, saying "Man fuck these bitches at universal pictures leaving me out the movie trailers tryin to rewrite history." and "When you have bitches work on a hip hop film that don't know shit about hip hop this is what happens. How the hell u leave me out after all". After the film's release, Ren tweeted, "True fans know my role in the group as far as lyrics are concerned, don't let the movie fool you about my contribution to the group." He later praised the filmmakers saying, "Congrats to the cast and crew. Great job of telling our story."
Despite being a founding member, Arabian Prince's contribution to the group has been ignored in the movie, and his character has a brief, uncredited cameo in the film. While going on record that he personally harbored no ill will towards the producers, Arabian Prince did note that it led to numerous inquiries and interview requests as to the possible reasons for such a revisionist approach. According to Arabian Prince, "Maybe for 50% of the [movie] scenes, I was there in real life, on stage, or in the studio. A lot of N.W.A's early music production was done with my equipment."
On August 24, 2015, Alonzo Williams referred to the film as "a great fusion of fantasy and reality", after admitting that he enjoyed the film. He disputed the accuracy of the scenes where he forbade gangsta rap from being played at his club, saying that the members of N.W.A had not started gangsta rap at that point. He also commented on the scene when Dr. Dre was bailed out of jail by Eazy-E, saying that Dr. Dre had been jailed several times for non-payment of parking fees and that he had an argument with Dre after having bailed him out of jail numerous times. When Alonzo refused to bail Dre out another time, Eazy-E bailed him out instead. Alonzo claimed that it was he who introduced Eazy-E to Jerry Heller.
Lawsuit from Heller
On August 27, 2015, Heller reported to the Los Angeles Times that he had seen the film: "I'm still not willing to comment right now on that movie because I think sooner or later it may be part of an ongoing litigation."
On October 30, 2015, Heller filed a 12-claim lawsuit in the Superior Court of Los Angeles against NBCUniversal, director F. Gary Gray, Legendary Pictures, the screenwriters of the film, Ice Cube, Dr. Dre and the estate of Eazy-E. As well as protesting his depiction in the film, Heller claimed that a significant amount of the film's content had been taken from his autobiography without permission. The defendants countered with a request that Heller's defamation charges be dismissed.
Misogyny and omissions
On August 17, 2015, Michel'le, Dr. Dre's former girlfriend and mother of one of his children, did an exclusive interview with Vlad TV. In the interview, the former Ruthless and Death Row Records artist ponders her and Dre's abusive relationship and she states that she was aware she was not included in the Straight Outta Compton film. "Why would Dre put me in it? I mean 'cause if they start from where they start from I was just a quiet girlfriend who got beat up and told to shut up."
On August 18, 2015, Gawker published an editorial by Dee Barnes titled "Here's What's Missing From Straight Outta Compton: Me and the Other Women Dr. Dre Beat Up". Barnes notes that Dr. Dre had repeated instances of physical abuse to female associates during his time in N.W.A, to include the infamous 1991 beating of Barnes in the bathroom of Po Na Na Souk nightclub. In the film, the incidents were never acknowledged. She further notes that important women from the era with close and historically important ties to N.W.A (JJ Fad, Yo Yo, Tairrie B, etc.) were absent from the film. In the end, most women portrayed in the film are partying groupies, with Barnes feeling that it could have also acknowledged the female MCs who contributed to N.W.A's and/or individual members' success. Gerrick D. Kennedy of the Los Angeles Times revealed the Barnes incident was originally included in an earlier version of the film's script. On August 21, 2015, Dr. Dre responded, apologizing to "the women I’ve hurt. I deeply regret what I did and know that it has forever impacted all of our lives." The next day, Apple Inc., which bought Beats Electronics for $3 billion in 2014 from Dr. Dre and made him an executive, weighed in on the abuse allegations to offer their support to Dre. Apple said in a statement, "Dre has apologized for the mistakes he's made in the past and he's said that he's not the same person that he was 25 years ago."
On August 26, 2015, Randall Roberts of the Los Angeles Times criticized the film for leaving out the story of the all female rap group J. J. Fad and how some in the media claim the group was responsible for "forging a path for the breakout success of N.W.A."
The film received numerous award nominations, including one for Best Original Screenplay at the Oscars.
On August 7, 2015, Dr. Dre released the album Compton: A Soundtrack by Dr. Dre exclusively on Apple Music and the iTunes Store at first, then later released on other digital music platforms and in CD and vinyl form. Though not an official soundtrack to the film Straight Outta Compton, Dr. Dre said this album would be "inspired by the movie," Dre said on The Pharmacy, his radio show on Beats 1, that during principal photography of Straight Outta Compton, "I felt myself going to the studio and being so inspired by the movie that I started recording an album." He added, "It's an 'inspired by' album. It's inspired by Straight Outta Compton." Part of Straight Outta Compton's successful opening has been attributed to Compton: A Soundtrack, Dr. Dre's first collection of original music since his 1999's 2001 album, which was released a week prior to the film's premiere and debuted at No. 2 on the US Billboard 200 charts and No. 1 on the iTunes charts. Dr. Dre says he will donate royalties from his new album to the city of Compton for a new performing arts facility.
An official soundtrack album to the film entitled Straight Outta Compton: Music from the Motion Picture was released on January 8, 2016 by Universal Music Enterprises. It features songs mainly by N.W.A, but also Ice Cube, Eazy-E, Dr. Dre featuring Snoop Dogg and others.