The first release from Amazon’s new movie division: ‘exploring the issue of violence in inner-city Chicago’
Amazon Studios confirmed to THR that it is backing the film after the company’s involvement had been rumored for months. ICM brokered the deal for U.S. rights on behalf of Lee, who wrapped shooting last week in Chicago.
Chi-Raq was originally planned for a world premiere at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, if accepted, but Lee and Amazon are so high on the project that they’re now hoping for a spot in this year’s awards race, insiders say. Following a qualifying run in December, the movie would officially open after the Christmas.
The streamer declined comment on those plans, but Amazon Studios head Roy Price and his movie production chief, Ted Hope, say Chi-Raq will play first in theaters, then be made available to Amazon Prime customers.
Hope said in his first joint interview with Price since arriving at Amazon in January:
“We couldn’t have come up with a better film to launch our division in every which way. Chi-Raqmakes no apologies and dares to shock, Spike Lee is one of the most distinct and visionary filmmakers of our time.”
Lee, who wrote the script with Kevin Willmott, said:
“I’m honored to be part of the film that will launch Amazon Studios and to tell a story that is so important. Please don’t be fooled by the title of Chi-Raq, this new Spike Lee joint will be something very special. We have assembled a stellar cast,”
Berney said :
“For Chi-Raq, and for future projects, we will collaborate with a top-tier theatrical distributor who shares our vision and passion,”
The movie is written in a distinct lyrical style — akin to Shakespeare, but more accessible. Still, it wasn’t the easiest sell, and Lee, who wrote the script with Kevin Willmott, organized a table read at the W Hotel last winter in Los Angeles after a dinner with Price and Hope at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. Some 50 people participated, including Jackson and Common.
Lee is producing Chi-Raq via his 40 Acres and a Mule shingle. IM Global is selling international territories.
Collected And Prepared By Roxtar Amir