Amazon Studios officially announced on Tuesday that “Spike Lee’s Chi-Raq” will be the first film to premiere under its Amazon Original Movies banner. It stars Nick Cannon, Wesley Snipes, Jennifer Hudson, Angela Bassett, John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson. Widespread reports that Kanye West appears in the film were denied by his reps in May.
Amazon’s involvement in the project was first reported in April.
Written by Lee and the film’s director, Kevin Willmott (“The Jayhawkers,” “Destination Planet Negro”), “Chi-Raq” wrapped production in Chicago last week. It is rumored to be a modern-day reimagining of the Greek comedy “Lysistrata,” but the only official word on its plot is that it will focus on inner-city violence in the Windy City.
“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, in a statement. “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.”
Announced in January, Amazon Original Movies acquires films for theatrical release and early window digital distribution on its Prime subscription service. Last month, it expanded its exec ranks, hiring former Disney/ABC digital chief Albert Cheng as COO and Picturehouse founder Bob Berney as head of theatrical distribution and marketing.