Rapper 50 Cent expands empire to filmmaking

Nicolas Cage to star in production company's first effort

PARK CITY -- Bullet-scarred rapper 50 Cent owns a record label and clothing line, acts and writes books, and now he is adding film production to his multimedia empire -- promoting his new venture this week at the Sundance Film Festival.

50 Cent, whose real name is Curtis Jackson, has launched Cheetah Vision, and says he's not concerned about starting a new business during the global financial crisis.

"I don't think it will affect me as much as it will the other people that are out there because I'm not afraid to finance some of these things myself if I have to," he said.

The rapper, who takes his name from a "stickup kid from Brooklyn," was ranked No. 26 on Forbes 2008 list of top 100 richest celebrities with estimated earnings of about $150 million between June 2007 and June 2008.

50 Cent had a stake in Glaceau, which makes Vitaminwater, and the bulk of his earnings came from the sale of the company to Coca-Cola Co. Forbes estimates the rapper banked about $100 million after taxes from the deal.

He said Cheetah Vision has already bought eight scripts and among the first to be produced would be "The Dance," starring himself and Nicolas Cage.

"(The script) was previously passed around a little bit but both me and Nicolas Cage had an interest in the film so it will still happen. He plays the founder of a boxing program, and I play a fighter who goes to state prison," 50 Cent said.

"They are all different types of movies that I bought the rights to, and we're developing projects. You will see different things from me in the future," he said.

The rapper, who was a teenage drug dealer in the New York City borough of Queens, also makes his debut as a director this year, giving away his feature film, "Before I Self Destruct," free with his latest album of the same name, which is due to be released in late March.

"It's an opportunity to make sure my fans get to see my first piece," he said of the film, which he also wrote and produced. "It actually allowed me to show cause and effect to some of the actions that I wrote about on the album."

"Because I have three minutes to create a song its not enough time for me to give an explanation for a person doing these things. It's just saying the action and not giving a description of the circumstances they are under," he added.

The film, in which he also stars, tells the tale of an inner city youth whose mother is shot to death so he takes up a life of crime in order to support his younger brother.

While 50 Cent has sold more than 30 million albums worldwide, he also has picked up steady film roles since appearing in 2005's semi-autobiographical "Get Rich or Die Tryin'," also the title of his 2003 debut album.

Later this year, he will be seen in "Streets of Blood" with Val Kilmer and Sharon Stone, and he is also due to start filming "13" with Mickey Rourke.

50 Cent, Robert De Niro and Al Pacino all starred in 2008's "Righteous Kill," and the rapper said he may work again with Robert De Niro.
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