Amazon Snaps Up Spike Lee’s Chi-Raq As First Original Movie


Anything Netflix can do, Amazon can do too. With the former dominating the online streaming medium, Amazon is looking to ramp up production with its first original movie, and it’s snapped up Spike Lee’s next major film – codenamed Chi-Raq – to be exactly that.

Written alongside Kevin Willmott (C.S.A.: Confederate States Of America), the project is said to focus on the oft-overlooked issue of violence in the Windy City itself, Chicago. With Lee behind the camera, having Chi-Raq as the poster child for the company’s nascent movie division is undoubtedly a major coup for Amazon, and here Ted Hop, Head of Motion Picture Production, spoke with excitement about the news.

“Spike Lee is one of the most distinct and visionary filmmakers of our time. 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.”

Launching a new studio in such a highly-competitive market may be cause for concern for Amazon, but the fact that Chi-Raq has already assembled the likes of  Nick Cannon, Wesley Snipes, Jennifer Hudson, Teyonah Parris, D.B. Sweeney, Harry Lennix, Steve Harris and Angela Bassett, with John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson to appear in some capacity, Spike Lee’s movie has all of the ingredients to be a hit under the online giant’s guidance.

“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,” Lee added.

First unveiled back in January, Amazon Original Movies is the company’s latest initiative that will see it foster and produce a number of projects for theatrical release, giving Prime members an early access window in the process. Chi-Raq may be the maiden film to be released under the Amazon name, but the company has already nurtured a number of original series such as CatastropheMozart in the Jungle and the award-winning Transparent.