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amazonstudiosAfter wrapping up filming the movie production of Chi-Raq last week in Chicago, many were relieved that the Brooklyn born director would be packing up to leave. Some say it wasn’t one of the more stressful film productions that was done with controversy and misgivings of the name ‘Chi-Raq’ left critics feeling the name is a black-eye on the city’s image.

Never one to shy away from controversial topics, Lee kept it moving allowing him and his team to focus on the business at hand.

Amazon Studios today announced that Spike Lee’snext major film (working title, Chi-Raq) is the first-ever Amazon Original Movie produced. Chi-Raq will feature Nick CannonWesley SnipesJennifer HudsonTeyonah ParrisD.B. SweeneyHarry LennixSteve HarrisAngela Bassett withJohn Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson. In what will be her breakout-starring roleTeyonah Parris will play the central lead character. Chi-Raq was shot entirely in Chicago and wrapped last week.

Written by both the critically acclaimed filmmaker Spike Lee (Do The Right Thing), and writer/director Kevin Willmott(C.S.A.: Confederate States Of America), and directed by Lee, Chi-Raq will shed light on the serious, but often overlooked issue of violence in inner city Chicago.

“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. “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.”IMG_5762

“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,” said Spike Lee.

Bob Berney, Head of Marketing and Distribution at Amazon Studios, explained, “For Chi-Raq, and for future projects, we will collaborate with a top-tier theatrical distributor who shares our vision and passion. We will work together to craft bold and distinctive marketing and distribution approaches for all our films.”

First announced in January, Amazon Original Movies is an initiative by Amazon to produce and acquire original movies for theatrical release and early window distribution exclusively for Prime members. With creative development and production headed up by independent film visionary Ted Hope, Amazon Original Movies focuses on unique stories, voices, and characters from top and up-and-coming creators. Bob Berney recently joined the Amazon Original Movies team to lead theatrical distribution and marketing efforts and will be managing third-party distributors.

Amazon Original Movies will join Amazon Original Series such as CatastropheBoschMozart in the JungleAlpha House and multi-Golden Globe winner Transparent, all available exclusively on Amazon for Prime members. Also premiering this fall are new Amazon Original series Hand of GodRed Oaks, and The Man in the High Castle.

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