Amazon Studios has announced that Spike Lee’s Chi-Raq, a drama about Chicago’s gun violence which does not star Kanye West, will be its first original movie production. Chi-Raq was filmed entirely on location in Chicago, and principal photography wrapped last week. There is no official release date for the movie, but The Hollywood Reporter reports that the film will have a December theatrical run in order to be eligible for awards and then will open on a wider scale in January. After initially opening in theaters, the film will then be made available pretty quickly to Amazon Prime subscribers for streaming, a model Amazon intends to follow for all of its film releases.
“I’m honored to be part of the film that will launch Amazon Studios and to tell a story that is so important,” Lee said in a statement provided by Amazon. “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.”
“Stellar” is no understatement: Lee’s cast includes Teyonah Parris, Nick Cannon, Wesley Snipes, Jennifer Hudson, D.B. Sweeney, Harry Lennix, Steve Harris, Angela Bassett, John Cusack, and Samuel L. Jackson. Lee wrote the script along with Kevin Willmott.
Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and other local politicians have expressed concerns about the movie’s title, worried that the film brands their city as a war zone. But Lee clapped back to their complaints on Instagram last week. He addressed the post to “the misinformed critics of Chi-Raq,” writing that during the principal photography of the production from July 1-9, there were 331 people shot and wounded and 69 people murdered.