Amazon, which has begun to have success with its original TV series, is finally jumping into the world of original films.
The company has officially announced its first project – Spike Lee's Chi-Raq. In January, Amazon announced plans to produce at least a dozen original films a year. The movies will be created with theatrical release in mind, but will appear on Amazon Prime Instant Video four to eight weeks after their theatrical premiere.
Chi-Raq stars Nick Cannon, Wesley Snipes, Jennifer Hudson, Teyonah Parris, D.B. Sweeney, Harry Lennix, Steve Harris, Angela Bassett, John Cusack, and Samuel L. Jackson. A take on the classic Greek play Lysistrata, it focuses on violence in inner city Chicago. The film wrapped last week.
“Spike Lee is one of the most distinct and visionary filmmakers of our time,” said Ted Hope, Head of Motion Picture Production at Amazon Studios. “It would be impossible to find a better filmmaker with whom to launch our studio. He has a unique voice, a distinct eye, and he tackles important subjects with humor and heart, pointing to solutions and not exploiting the problems. Chi-Raq may be his greatest, and definitely his boldest film yet—everything about it is distinctive.”
“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,” said Spike Lee.
Amazon's film ambitions are starting to take shape. As Hollywood Reporter notes, Amazon has "acquired domestic rights to Elvis & Nixon, a historical drama starring Kevin Spacey as President Richard Nixon and Michael Shannon as Elvis Presley. It is also pursuing a Jim Jarmusch movie; Terry Gilliam’s The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, a passion project about an ad executive who travels back in time, where Don Quixote mistakes him for Sancho Panza; and Eleanor Coppola’s Bonjour Anne, a romance drama starring Diane Lane, Nicolas Cage and Yvan Attal.
Rival Netflix is also making a big original film push.
Image via Angela George, Wikimedia Commons