Amazon Studios has announced that it will release Spike Lee’s (Oldboy) newest drama, Chi-Raq, this December, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The movie is an adaptation of the classical Greek play Lysistrata. The adaptation stars Teyonah Parris (Dear White People) as a woman who protests the black-on-black violence in the city by going on a sex strike.
The movie also features an impressive ensemble, including Chicago-native actors John Cusack (Love and Mercy), Common (Selma), Jeremy Piven (Entourage), and Jennifer Hudson (TV’s Empire), as well as Samuel L. Jackson (Kingsman: The Secret Service), Wesley Snipes (The Expendables 3), Angela Bassett (Black Nativity), Nick Cannon (American Son), Dave Chappelle (Undercover Brother), and D.B. Sweeney (Eight Men Out).
Despite being from New York, the subject matter is right up Lee’s alley, as Chicago is one of the most diverse cities in America and also one of the most segregated. The violence in the city, particularly the neighborhoods on the city’s south side, has been the topic of other films, including Steve James’ (Life Itself) documentary The Interrupters.
Amazon will release Chi-Raq – a title that has sparked controversy amongst Chicago leaders, including Mayor Rahm Emanuel – in theaters this December. The movie was originally planned to play at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, but Amazon and Lee were reportedly very high on the finished project and felt they should make a run at the upcoming awards season.
Amazon will also release the movie in theaters well before it’s available on their “Prime” streaming service, a strategy very different from their rival Netflix, which has opted to release their films day-and-date with a theatrical release. Theater chains have openly refused to carry Netflix’s films due to their release strategy. That shouldn’t be an issue for Amazon, with their much more theater-friendly strategy.
If the film is as well-received as Lee and Amazon believe it will be, it would be a much-needed hit for Lee, whose last commercial and critical success was 2006’s Inside Man.
Despite being set for a December release, no specific date has been announced at this time.