Amazon Announces (Quick!) Date, (Most of) Release Details on Spike Lee’s ‘Chi-raq’


Chi-raq, Spike Lee’s forthcoming, Lysistrata-inspired musical comedy about gun violence in Chicago, has been a bit of a question mark in terms of distribution. As the inaugural entry in Amazon’s big move towards feature filmmaking (a move that reportedly also includes the likes of Jim Jarmusch and Terry Gilliam), the studio/streamer/bookseller/etc. has kept its release strategy to itself, perhaps to avoid the kind of pushback that greeted Netflix’s simultaneous theatrical and streaming release of Beasts of No Nation.

Perhaps learning from that film’s not entirely successful theatrical release, Amazon Studios has announced Chi-raq will hit theaters first—and soon. Deadline reports Roadside Attractions and Lionsgate will handle Chi-raq’s release, which will begin in major markets in just five weeks, on December 4. It won’t face the kind of overcrowding Beasts did on that date, opening against only the holiday horror movie Krampus in wide release and the older-skewing Youth and Macbeth in indie houses.

But there’s one lingering question about Lee’s film, which stars Samuel L. Jackson, Wesley Snipes, Teyonah Parris, John Cusack, Nick Cannon, Angela Bassett, Jennifer Hudson, Harry Lennix, and D.B. Sweeney: when will it stream on Amazon? “It was not immediately clear when Amazon will put Chi-raq on its own service,” Deadline reports. “Those details will likely be revealed soon.” Should be interesting to see if “soon” means “after they’ve made some money in theaters.”