Possibly in consideration of Awards season (pre-screenings for the film have apparently impressed audiences so far) as an Oscar-qualifying run, Amazon Studios has set the release date for Spike Lee’s curious “‘Chi-Raq,” for December 4, in a theatrical release deal that involves both Roadside Attractions and Lionsgate (another sign that expectations for the film are high).
“Chi-Raq” was said to be a “working title” – meaning, it might be called something else entirely for the film’s eventual release, which would make sense, given all the criticism Spike has faced over the use of the derogatory term, in reference to Chicago (the city at the center of the story he’s telling). But any change in the title is very unlikely at this point.
The solid cast for the film includes star Teyonah Parris, as well as Angela Bassett, Harry Lennix, Steve Harris, Wesley Snipes, Jennifer Hudson, D.B. Sweeney, John Cusack, Samuel L. Jackson and Nick Cannon.
In what could be a breakout-starring role, Teyonah Parris is playing the central character, in a story set against the backdrop of Chicago’s gun violence, and said to be a modern spin on the Greek comedy “Lysistrata” – in short, the women of Greece refused to have sex with their husbands, all in an effort to bring an end to the Peloponnesian War, via the signing of a peace treaty. In Spike’s film, the story will center on a woman’s quest to end gang warfare in Chicago, likely via similar methods as used by Lysistrata; i.e., no sex for the brothas in the middle of the gang war, until the violence ends… and it all unfolds as a musical comedy.
“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 at the time of the film’s pick-up. “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.”
“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,” added Spike Lee.
With December 4 looming, a first trailer should be arriving very soon, and I can’t wait!