For most rappers, becoming an actor remains a career progression that’s as natural as starting one’s own record label, clothing line, or these days, starring in a reality show. From Hip Hop’s household names to one-hit wonders, everybody’s doing it or has already done it. 50 Cent’s first foray into Hollywood began with his box office debut Get Rich or Die Tryin’, a 2005 biopic loosely-based on the rapper’s rags-to-riches climb to the top of the Rap industry from the wild streets of Southside, Jamaica, Queens. A cult classic among G-Unit enthusiasts and a commercial success, the movie initiated 50’s presence in Tinseltown and led to a slew of roles and film projects, some of which that were produced by 50 Cent’s own Cheetah Vision production company.
Fast forward to 2014. From G-Unit’s fallout-turned-unexpected reunion at Hot 97’s 2014 Summer Jam to his new Starz TV drama series Power being renewed for a second season, this summer has been whirlwind of unpredictable success for 50 Cent, after a musical hiatus and public departure from his longtime label home, Interscope Records. All that was missing was a summer blockbuster film to add to the rapper’s recent winning streak. Or maybe not.
Despite having appeared in over 20 films alongside A-listers including Robert DeNiro, Al Pacino and Samuel L. Jackson, 50 Cent’s acting career and many of the films that have featured the rapper have been panned by critics. Complex.com ranked 50 Cent twentieth on a list of the 50 worst actors in Hollywood history. Indiewire.com called 50’s work a “bland, one-dimensional drama.” So while the negative feedback paints a negative picture of 50’s acting skills one can’t qualitatively measure, the amount of money 50 has raked in from acting is measured rather easily. For a recap of the the G-Unit general’s hits and misses, check out 50 Cent’s box office impact.
Get Rich or Die Tryin’
Release Date: November 9, 2005
Notable Co-stars: Terrence Howard,Viola Davis
First Week Box Office Numbers: $12,020,807
Released in 2005 during the height of 50 Cent’s music career, Get Rich or Die Tryin was the rapper’s 8 Mile moment. Many hail the film as a semi-autobiographical account of 50’s ascent from the streets to music superstardom, as the story revolved around “Marcus” (played by 50 Cent), a Queens drug dealer/rapper who finds redemption against a ruthless kingpin obsessed with ending Marcus’ Rap career and ultimately, his life. The film was directed by six-time Academy Award-nominee Jim Sheridan and featured acclaimed thespians Terrence Howard and Viola Davis in supporting roles. But despite grossing over $46 million worldwide, Get Rich or Die Tryin’ was slammed by film critics, many of which hailed it as being nothing more than a platform for 50 Cent’s music career.
Home of The Brave
Release Date: December 15, 2006
Notable Co-stars: Samuel L. Jackson, Jessica Biel
First Week Box Office Numbers: $6,000
The military drama Home of the Brave featured 50 Cent as Jamal Aiken, an Army National Guard soldier returning home severely injured after serving in Iraq. Bitter due to the denial of his military veteran benefits and the distant reception from his loved ones, Jamal has difficulty adjusting to civilian life. Samuel L. Jackson and Jessica Biel rounded out the cast of the film, which only opened in three theaters when it was released domestically in 2006. After earning a scant $51,708 at the box office domestically and $447,912 worldwide, the film was removed from theaters and re-released in 2007 to little, if any fanfare.
Release Date: September 12, 2008
Notable Co-stars: Al Pacino, Robert De Niro
First Week Box Office Numbers: $16,288,361
As one of only two films where both Robert De Niro and Al Pacino star and appear in movie scenes together (the first being Heat), Righteous Kill seemed destined to be a box office success. 50 Cent also starred in the movie in predictable role as a drug dealer named Spider who is murdered by the corrupt buddy cop team of Pacino and De Niro. While the film did earn over $40 million worldwide and debuted at #3 on its opening weekend, the novelty of De Niro and Pacino on-screen paired with 50 Cent’s celebrity appeal failed to live up to its hype.
Release Date: August 6, 2010
Notable Co-stars: Kiefer Sutherland, Emma Roberts
First Week Box Office Numbers: $110,238
Directed by Joel Schumacher and billed as an “indie crime drama” centered around wealthy teenagers, Twelve seemed promising, despite a familiar plot (money, sex and drugs) and a lack of marquee Hollywood actors. Although 50 Cent’s portrayal of the merciless character Lionel wasn’t slammed by the critics of the movie, his acceptance of yet another role as a drug dealer (his third, since Get Rich or Die Tryin’) caused audiences to question both his choice of roles and the oft-debated argument regarding the lack of quality characters available for black actors in Hollywood. Overall, Twelve did little to help establish 50 Cent’s reputation as a serious actor and remains forgettable to most moviegoers.
Release Date: October 28, 2011 (United States); March 13, 2010 (SXSW)
Notable Co-stars: Mickey Rourke, Jason Statham
First Week Box Office Numbers: N/A
Based on the French-language film 13 Tzameti, 13 tells the story of Ferro (played by Sam Riley), a desperate man who participates in a deadly gambling ring organized for the enjoyment of the wealthy. Unlike most of his previous roles, 50 Cent plays a supporting role as enforcer for who tries to rob and murder a player whom he believes has a map leading to hidden riches. Earning an 8% rating on RottenTomatoes.com, some critics compared the American remake to the original film and slammed it for everything from being shot in color (instead of black and white) to the inclusion of the characters’ back stories, making it yet another critically panned film on 50 Cent’s resume.
Release Date: January 12, 2013 (DVD only release)
Notable Co-stars: Forest Whitaker, Robert DeNiro
First Week Box Office Numbers: N/A
Pegged by DVD Verdict as a “forgettable cop drama with a good cast” Freelancers found 50 Cent on the other side of the law in his first role as a police officer, a welcome departure from his previous movie roles as a drug dealer/criminal-type. In Freelancers, 50’s character Jonas is mentored by Robert De Niro, who portrays a veteran cop hiding a dirty secret that makes him a target for murder. Due to a limited theater release in August 2012, the little-known film with a stellar cast made minor headway in 2012, and was released on DVD that same month.
The Frozen Ground
Release Date: August 23, 2013 (DVD only release)
Notable Co-stars: Nicolas Cage, John Cusack, Vanessa Hudgens
First Week Box Office Numbers: N/A
The true story of the Alaskan Police Department’s 1980s manhunt for serial killer Robert Hansen served as the basis for the 2013 suspense thriller The Frozen Ground. Filmed in Alaska over 26 days, The Frozen Ground starred Nicholas Cage as a state trooper who tried to assemble a criminal case against elusive killer Robert Hansen (John Cusack). 50 Cent played Clate Johnson, a local pimp who almost gets stripper/prostitute Cindy (Vanessa Hudgens) murdered before she can testify against Hansen for abducting her. Despite earning mixed reviews from film critics during its release, it currently holds a 4-star rating among audiences on the streaming websites Amazon Prime and Netflix.com.
Release Date: October 18, 2013
Notable Co-stars: Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger
First Week Box Office Numbers: $9,885,732
The 2013 action movie The Escape Plan starred Sylvester Stallone as a high-level prison security expert who is incarcerated at a top-secret, maximum security prison. In an attempt to free himself, Stallone teams up with fellow inmates Hush (played by 50 Cent) and Rottmayer (Arnold Schwarzenegger) to form an intricate plot using technology to escape the prison complex. Although audiences delighted in seeing 50 Cent the Rap superstar co-star alongside ‘80s action heroes Stallone and Schwarzenegger, some critics griped that he was “hysterically miscast” as an incarcerated computer whiz, a far more progressive role compared to the typical street roles he had done in previous films. Nevertheless, The Escape Plan enjoyed major success overseas and earned a worldwide gross of $137.3 million.