A new Spike Lee film, Chi-Raq, exploring Chicago’s inner-city violence, is being released by Amazon’s movie division, Amazon Studios. The company’s foray into original motion pictures is getting off to an impressive start with a movie by the iconic director.
The story is an updated version of the classical Greek play Lysistrata. Featuring a distinct lyrical style, likened to Shakespeare but more accessible, the plot revolves around a woman who decides to combat black-on-black gun violence by protesting with a sex strike. The controversial titled compares Chicago to Iraq.
Starring as the lead character is Mad Men’s Teyonah Parris. The star-studded cast also features Nick Cannon, Wesley Snipes, Jennifer Hudson, D.B. Sweeney, Harry Lennix, Steve Harris, Angela Bassett, John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson.
Lee wrote the screenplay with Kevin Willmott (The Battle for Bunker Hill).
Lee was quoted in The Hollywood Reporter, as follows: “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.”
Chi-Raq will play in theaters prior to becoming available for streaming by Amazon Prime customers. However, there probably won’t be a long delay between the project’s theatrical run and the title’s debut on Prime. This is also the plan for the other films Amazon has in the works.
Chi-Raq recently wrapped filming in Chicago. It was originally slated to debut at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival, but word is Amazon is so enthusiastic about the movie that they want to screen it in time for the next awards season. It is now expected to be shown in limited release in December 2015, then officially open next year.