‘Juice,’ the Seminal Coming-of-Age Film, Celebrates Its 30th Anniversary

A scene from "Juice." Image: courtesy of Paramount Pictures.

In his directorial debut, acclaimed cinematographer Ernest R. Dickerson released a bonafide classic with the gripping coming-of-age drama Juice. Released on January 17, 1992, the film tells the story of four high school friends Q (Omar Epps), Bishop (Tupac Shakur), Raheem (Khalil Kain), and Steel (Jermaine Hopkins) growing up in Harlem. The tight-knit crew attempt to navigate the challenges of teenage fatherhood, police harassment, gang violence, and succumbing to the temptation of gaining “juice” by force. With Shakur and Epps giving breakout performances in their first starring roles, the seminal film received critical acclaim and grossed over $20 million at the box office (having been made for only $5 million budget), launching their careers as actors on the rise.

To celebrate the film’s 30th anniversary, Paramount Home Entertainment has released the film on 4K Ultra HD for the first time. The disc features a digital copy of the film and bonus content, including interviews with Dickerson, producer David Heyman (Harry Potter franchise), Epps, Kain, and Hopkins.  Additionally,  the cast and crew reflect on making the film, share never heard before stories of working with Shakur, and reveal the impact that Juice had on their personal and professional lives since its theatrical debut.

The new release also includes behind-the-scenes footage of Shakur, Queen Latifah, Cindy Herron of En Vogue, the Shocklee brothers who scored the film, Eric B, EPMD, Cypress Hill, and more.  

In an interview with Complex, Dickerson spoke about why it was important for him and his co-writer Gerard Brown to remain faithful to their vision of Juice.

“They had a list of directors three pages long and mine was the last name on the last page,” Dickerson explains. “They wanted to buy the script—I love Malcolm Jamal Warner, but they wanted Malcolm because he was on The Cosby Show. Gerard and I, we’re getting these notes that we needed to lighten it up, make it more of a coming-of-age comedy in Harlem because it was already too dark. We said, ‘No, we don’t want to do that,’ and we basically said, ‘Thank you,’ and we took the script. We could have made a lot of money just selling it, but we took it back. We said, ‘Forget about this. We don’t want to have this. They want to turn this into something we don’t want our names on.’”

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