Paid in Full
October 25, 2002
Lodged indelibly in the American consciousness for his direction of the memorable and outstanding "Whassup?" Budweiser commercials, Charles Stone III hopes to translate that success onto the much larger screen, as he currently has films slated for release in two consecutive months. The first of these is Drumline, a comedy about the drum corps of a college marching band. Stone turns to subject matter of a more serious nature in Paid in Full, the third film from Damon Dash's Roc-A-Fella Productions (previous projects were the limited releases Backstage and State Property).
Paid in Full is based on the true story of the lives of three notorious and influential Harlem drug dealers, AZ, Rich Porter and Alpo. An '80s period piece, the film will star Wood Harris (Remember the Titans), Mekhi Phifer ("O"), and rapper Cam'ron in the three primary roles, and will likely have a soundtrack that will play heavily into the rotation on both MTV and BET. In fact, a number of rappers, such as Shyne, Jay-Z and Eric B & Rakim already feature the kingpins fairly prominently in both song and cover art.
In this fictionalized account, the story will be told in flashback form as Harris's character, Ace, becomes slowly immersed into the world of hustling after he sees a friend find some substantial success. He learns the business from a well-known dealer and then teams up with the two other men to become a dominant force, though the cost may ultimately be his conscience.
Paid in Full marks Roc-A-Fella Productions' second joint venture with distributor Dimension Films. The first was Backstage, a tour documentary that featured rap artists such as Jay-Z, DMX and Beanie Siegel. That film managed a final gross of only $1.18 million, but the subject matter was clearly a more targeted and difficult sell, particularly considering its behind-the-scenes nature. Paid in Full has a definite niche audience that should have a strong interest in the subject matter, particularly as Az, Porter and Alpo are considered legends of their time. Unfortunately, it seems that bootlegs of the film have been out for some time, so it is possible that a large segment of that core audience will have already seen it by the time it hits theaters. (Kim Hollis/BOP)
October 21, 2002
Now slated to open in approximately 300 theaters, Paid in Full will be targeted at a very specific demographic in select theaters. Thus far, critical response to the film has been varied, with some reviewers lauding the performances and story, while others call it derivative and slight. Advertising has not been at all widespread and buzz is fairly silent, and with a target audience that is somewhat difficult to predict, that lack of marketing is likely to be a problem. Look for middling numbers for a fairly limited release. (Kim Hollis/BOP)
Comparison films for Paid in Full
|Boyz N the Hood
|New Jack City
|Menace II Society *