BY BEN LESTER
With Netflix dominating the streaming realm of original features, Amazon Studios has taken its first official step with Spike Lee’s new film Chi-Raq. Lee’s modern retelling of Aristophanes’ Greek play Lysistrata has been a part of Amazon’s impending rollout for awhile now, but today, the company formally announced Chi-Raq as well as providing some much-needed information on Lee’s latest venture.
As most are already aware, the film’s title draws comparisons between Chicago’s violent climate and war-torn Iraq. Teyonah Parris takes the lead as a woman who protests the rising black-on-black gun violence by going on a sex strike. Lee penned the script with Kevin Willmott, which has been described as Shakespeare-esque with a very “lyrical” style. Chi-Raq’sexpanding cast includes Nick Cannon, Common, John Cusack, Wesley Snipes, Samuel L. Jackson, Jennifer Hudson, Angela Bassett, Jeremy Piven, and Dave Chappelle.
“We couldn’t have come up with a better film to launch our division in every which way. Chi-Raq makes no apologies and dares to shock,” Amazon’s chief of movie production, Ted Hope, said in a statement. “Spike Lee is one of the most distinct and visionary filmmakers of our time.”
Amazon’s current plan is to release the film to theaters in December for a qualifying run, before officially opening after the New Year. As it will be for all of Amazon’s films, Chi-Raq will be available for Amazon Prime subscribers shortly after its theatrical release.
Amazon Studios will make a strong effort to release 12 films a year, with budgets ranging from $5 – $25 million. You can get an idea of the projects they’re working with here.
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