Spike Lee's Chi-Raq coming to theaters in December
Spike Lee’s Chi-Raq — the first original movie from Amazon Studios — is headed to the big screen this awards season.
The film will open in select theaters Dec. 4, with Roadside Attractions and Lionsgate handling distribution, EW has confirmed. Shortly after its exclusive theatrical run, the movie will be available to stream via Amazon Prime.
Deadline first reported details of the release.
Taking its title from the controversial nickname likening Chicago to Iraq, Chi-Raq is a contemporary update of Aristophones’ Greek comedy Lysistrata that stars Teyonah Parris as a woman who organizes a sex strike to protest black-on-black violence on the South Side. Recently, Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel said he was “not happy with the title.”
“I told him also that there are very good people that live in Englewood who are raising their family and there’s a lot of positive things that are happening in Englewood mainly driven by the people that make up Englewood,” Emanuel said of a recent meeting he had with Lee in an interview with the Chicago Tribune. Emanuel later added that while he didn’t support the title, the film’s subject of black-on-black violence “is a conversation that has been ignored for too long and needs to be discussed.”
Lee responded to Emanuel’s statements in a subsequent interview with Chicago magazine. “I’m not the bad guy, but that’s how he was trying to portray it. Do I have the guns? Am I the one pulling the trigger? To be honest, he’s a bully,” Lee said. “My tactic with the mayor — any bully — is to come out swinging. I said, ‘Mayor, Your Honor, you’re gonna be on the wrong side of history.'”
By offering Chi-Raq in theaters first, Amazon is taking a different tack than rival streaming service Netflix, which recently debuted the war drama Beasts of No Nation in theaters and online at the same time. Such day-and-date releases have created friction with theater owners.
Chi-Raq costars Angela Bassett, Samuel L. Jackson, Wesley Snipes, Nick Cannon, Jennifer Hudson, John Cusack, and D.B. Sweeney. Lee wrote the script with Kevin Willmott. The director shared some artwork from the project on his Instagram account.