When it was initially announced that Eminem would be holding down a leading role in a semi-autobiographical film, many of his fans were curious as to how his big cinematic debut (not counting a brief cameo in Dr. Dre & Snoop Dogg‘s The Wash) would play out. Despite committing to his roles in various music videos, 2002’s 8 Mile marked a serious foray into dramatic territory for Em, one that found him sharing scenes with the likes of Mekhi Phifer, Kim Basinger, Michael Shannon, and the late Brittany Murphy.

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On November 8th, 2002, Shady’s 8 Mile hit theaters, and it didn’t take long for the Curtis Hanson-directed flick to become an instant commercial success. In its opening weekend, 8 Mile locked in a massive opening weekend, hauling in an impressive $51,240,555 — a gargantuan number that would solidify it as the second-highest R-rated movie at the time, falling short of Ridley Scott’s Hannibal. And perhaps more impressively, the critics responded rather favorably, with many celebrating Eminem‘s performance as a standout surprise.

In hindsight, it’s no wonder that 8 Mile proved to be such a cultural phenomenon. It’s arguable that 2002 was Eminem’s biggest year of all time, with his acclaimed The Eminem Show album having dropped in the summer, and his Shady Records-heavy 8 Mile Soundtrack landing only a few weeks prior to the film. Some would even go so far as to say that Em’s songwriting was at a peak, revealing a newfound ability to peel back layers and share new chapters of his story. Now, with 8 Mile officially having turned eighteen (a testament to how long Eminem has been a presence in the rap game), it feels appropriate to celebrate the classic hip-hop film.

Have you watched this one recently? And for those who caught the film during its theatrical run, did 8 Mile open your eyes to the world of battle rap for the first time?