8 Mile is a 2002 American drama film written by Scott Silver and directed by Curtis Hanson. It stars Eminem in his film debut, alongside Mekhi Phifer, Brittany Murphy, Michael Shannon, Anthony Mackie, and Kim Basinger. The film, which contains autobiographical elements from Eminem's life, follows white rapper B-Rabbit (Eminem) and his attempt to launch a career in hip hop, a genre dominated by African-Americans. The title is derived from 8 Mile Road, the highway between the predominantly African-American city of Detroit and the largely white suburban communities to the north that Eminem originally lived in.
8 Mile was a critical and box office success. It opened at No. 1 in the US with $51.3 million grossed in its opening weekend and an eventual total of $242.9 million worldwide. The album's accompanying soundtrack was also a commercial success, being certified quadruple platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). The film garnered numerous award nominations and wins, including an Academy Award for Best Original Song for "Lose Yourself" win for Eminem, Luis Resto and Jeff Bass at the 75th Academy Awards. 8 Mile was named one of the best films of 2002 by several publications.
Set in October 1995 in Detroit, Jimmy "B-Rabbit" Smith Jr. (Eminem) is a 23-year old, unhappy blue-collar worker from a poor Missouri family who now are residing in a trailer park near Detroit in Warren, Michigan. Jimmy has moved back north of 8 Mile Road to the run-down trailer home in Warren, Michigan, of his alcoholic mother Stephanie (Kim Basinger), his younger sister Lily (Chloe Greenfield), and Stephanie's abusive live-in boyfriend Greg (Michael Shannon). Although encouraged by his friends, Jimmy worries about his potential as a rapper. One night, Jimmy chokes during a rap battle at a local venue, the Shelter, and he leaves the stage humiliated.
During the day, Jimmy works at a car factory. Desperate for money, he asks for extra shifts, but his supervisor bluntly dismisses his request because of his habitual tardiness. Later on, Jimmy befriends a woman named Alex (Brittany Murphy), and he begins to take more responsibility for the direction of his life.
At some point, Stephanie receives an eviction notice, as she cannot pay rent. Despite her best attempts to keep the eviction notice a secret, Greg discovers it and confronts Stephanie. When Jimmy punches Greg for pushing his mother to the ground, they fight, ending in Greg leaving Stephanie for good.
Jimmy's friendship with Wink (Eugene Byrd), a radio DJ with ties to a record label promoter, becomes strained after he discovers that Wink does promotional work for Jimmy's rivals, a rap group known as the "Leaders of the Free World". At one point, Jimmy and his friends get into a violent brawl with the Free World crew, which is disrupted when Jimmy's friend Cheddar Bob (Evan Jones) pulls out a gun and accidentally shoots himself in the leg; he survives after being rushed to the hospital.
During a lunch break at work, one of Jimmy's coworkers (Xzibit) performs a freestyle rap insulting a gay co-worker, Paul (Craig Chandler). Jimmy raps a freestyle defending Paul. Alex arrives and is impressed by Jimmy's actions and they have sex. Wink arranges for Jimmy to meet with producers at a recording studio, but Jimmy finds Wink and Alex having sex. Enraged, Jimmy attacks Wink as Alex tries to break up their altercation.
In retaliation, Wink and the Leaders of the Free World assault Jimmy outside his trailer. The leader of the gang, Papa Doc, holds Jimmy at gunpoint and threatens to kill him, but Wink dissuades him. After the group has left Jimmy alone, his mother arrives with enough money to pay to avoid eviction, having won $3,200 at a bingo tournament.
Jimmy's best friend and battle host, Future (Mekhi Phifer), pushes him to get revenge by competing against the Leaders of the Free World at the next rap battle. Jimmy agrees, but his boss, having noticed improved effort at work, asks Jimmy to do a late-night shift. He agrees, but it conflicts with the battle at the Shelter. Alex unexpectedly visits Jimmy at work. She says goodbye, as she is going to New York, and she is hoping to see Jimmy at the Shelter later. This motivates Jimmy to do the battle. He asks Paul to cover the start of his shift as a favor while Jimmy goes to the battle.
In all rounds of the rap battle, Jimmy has to compete against one member of the Free World crew. After handily winning the first two rounds against Lyckety-Splyt and Lotto, he faces Papa Doc. Going first, Jimmy preempts Papa Doc's potential insults, acknowledging his own "white trash" roots and difficult life, while also exposing that Papa Doc, despite posing as a thug, had a comparatively stable and even privileged upbringing. Embarrassed and with nothing to say in rebuttal, Papa Doc hands the microphone back to Future, conceding the battle. After being congratulated by Alex and his friends, Jimmy is offered a position by Future co-hosting battles at the Shelter. Jimmy declines, saying that hosting is Future's thing and he needs to do his own. Jimmy leaves alone and returns to work.