After announcing its plans to start producing feature-length movies in January, Amazon Studios has reportedly secured its biggest deal yet. The Wrap reports that Spike Lee is making his next film — Chiraq — for the company, and is courting Samuel L. Jackson, Jeremy Piven, Common, and Kanye West for starring roles.
Very little has been revealed about the movie, but its title is a reference to the nickname given to Chicago, fusing the Second City's name with that war-torn Iraq to describe a recent escalation in gun violence. Spike Lee's works tend to be more closely tied to New York than Chicago, but Piven, Common, and Kanye West are all from the Illinois city. Jackson, who is currently working with Quentin Tarantino on The Hateful Eight, is expected to cameo in the movie.
The title is a reference to Chicago's gun violence
The deal could be a big splash in the market for Amazon Studios. The company announced earlier this year that it would be throwing its weight behind the production of original features for eventual streaming through its Prime service, but said it would be following traditional release models, with movies shown in theaters for a period before becoming available online. Roy Price, VP of Amazon Studios, said at the time that the company wanted to produce around 12 movies a year, and would use the program to benefit both customers and filmmakers, who "too often struggle to mount fresh and daring stories that deserve an audience." That approach has apparently resonated with Lee, a well-respected director who nonetheless had to turn to crowdfunding to film his last movie, Da Sweet Blood of Jesus.