In what might be one of the biggest stories to come out of the Cannes Film Festival, Entertainment Weekly reports that Netflix has landed a project that will star Rihanna and Lupita Nyong’o in a story based on a viral meme. The untitled film will be directed by Ava DuVernay (Selma, the upcoming A Wrinkle in Time). Insecure creator Issa Rae is in talks to write the script.
The concept originations from a photo of the two celebrities back in 2014 at the Miu Miu show during Paris Fashion Week. Soon after, the photo inspired comments on Tumblr that proposed a heist movie in which Rihanna and Nyong’o scam the rich out of their money:
Twitter users pulled the pair, along with DuVernay and Rae, into the discussion, and all four declared they were interested:
As fun and silly as the concept is, it’s still stunning that Netflix jumped on board to develop the project. According to EW’s sources, the streaming company fought for the film, putting in an aggressive bid to beat out competitors.
The decision is a triumph for black women in film both behind and in front of the camera. All four are big names in entertainment, and their name recognition coupled with the ongoing call to see more women of color in film will draw both critical attention and audiences to see how well the project plays out.
The project is also huge Cannes news for Netflix, which has endured scrutiny from the festival. During the premiere of director Bong Joon-ho’s Okja, audiences booed Netflix when the company logo appeared. The chilly reception came after weeks of sniping between the streaming company and the festival over whether or not films made primarily for online platforms delegitimize filmmaking. However, both Okja and Noah Baumbach’s The Meyerowitz Stories, starring Adam Sandler, were ultimately well received.
Taken together, there’s now an argument for Netflix finding a way to steal the show.
Update 4:50pm ET: The piece has been updated to clarify that the meme originated on Tumblr.