Amazon will debut first original movie, Spike Lee’s Chi-Raq, in theaters this winter

amazon spike lee
Denis Makarenko /
Amazon is already on a roll with its original series, most notably Transparent. And now, it will be adding original movies to the mix with Spike Lee’s Chi-Raq, which is scheduled to debut in theaters (yes, real movie theaters!) later this year, reports Variety.

The plan for distribution of Amazon’s flicks, including this inaugural one, is interesting: the movies will get a limited run in theaters, then be available exclusively via streaming to Amazon Prime members.

Amazon says it plans to launch 12 movies each year, budgeting about $5-25 million for each, along with, of course, continuing to develop original series. Several big-wigs have already been tapped to work on this burgeoning side of the business: Ted Hope, known as an indie producer, heads up Amazon’s newly-created film division, and Bob Berney, formerly the CEO of indie film distributor Picturehouse, has been appointed Head of Theatrical Distribution and Marketing.

This means a lot of eyes will be on Chi-Raq as the first indication of what Amazon can truly do in the movie space. And it takes on a pretty serious topic, covering gun violence in inner-city Chicago, specifically the Englewood neighborhood. So much so, in fact, tha Rahm Emanuel, Mayor of Chicago, has commented about what he calls the movie title’s inaccurate perception of Chicago as a “war zone:” Chi-Raq, which is actually just the working title of the film, is a play on “Iraq.”

Related: Woody Allen Calls Amazon Series a ‘Catastrophic mistake’

But Lee is no slouch in the movie biz. Hope calls the long-time director “one of the most visionary filmmakers of our time.” Lee will write along with Kevin Willmott and direct; and the film will feature some big Hollywood names, including Nick Cannon, Wesley Snipes, Angela Bassett, John Cusack, and Samuel L. Jackson. It was filmed on location from June 1 through to July 9, during which time, Lee notes in a recent Instagram post, the city saw 331 people shot and wounded and 69 murdered.

Chi-Raq is scheduled to debut some time later this year.

Movies & TV

How Avengers: Infinity War’s Oscar-nominated VFX team made Thanos a movie star

The purple-skinned Thanos proved to be a breakout character in Avengers: Infinity War, thanks to the work of actor Josh Brolin and visual effects studios Digital Domain and Weta. Here's how they brought him to life and earned the film an…
Home Theater

What’s new on Amazon Prime Video (March 2019)

Amazon Prime Video adds new titles each month that are available for free to all Prime members. Check out our list to find all the content hitting Amazon Prime Video in February and March, from new original series to classic films.
Home Theater

Amazon ups the ante with Netflix, aims to release up to 30 movies a year

Netflix has a huge budget for both licensed and original content. But Amazon Studios isn't far behind. Studio chief Jennifer Salke revealed a plan to do 30 theatrical and direct-to-Amazon Prime titles this year alone.
Movies & TV

The best movies on Amazon Prime right now (February 2019)

Prime Video provides subscribers with access to a host of fantastic films, but sorting through the catalog can be an undertaking. Luckily, we've done the work for you. Here are the best movies on Amazon Prime Video right now.
Movies & TV

'Prime'-time TV: Here are the best shows on Amazon Prime right now

There's more to Amazon Prime than free two-day shipping, including access to a number of phenomenal shows at no extra cost. To make the sifting easier, here are our favorite shows currently streaming on Amazon Prime.

Alita: Battle Angel’s big opening weekend leads weak holiday box office

New box-office champion Alita: Battle Angel outperformed expectations with its big premiere and positive reviews from critics, but Presidents' Day weekend is still off to a slow start.
Movies & TV

Why First Man’s Oscar-nominated visual effects are a giant leap for filmmaking

Paul Lambert, the award-winning visual effects supervisor on First Man, reveals the innovative techniques that blended old footage with modern movie magic to make the Apollo 11 mission to the moon resonate with audiences 50 years later and…

FA Cup: Watch Chelsea vs. Manchester United with ESPN Plus 7-day free trial

Chelsea and Manchester United are facing off in an exciting FA Cup match, with the fifth round - a tie match - slated for Monday. Die-hard fans of English football can stream the game anywhere at any time with ESPN Plus, and here's how to…
Movies & TV

Netflix completes its breakup with Marvel, cancels The Punisher, Jessica Jones

Two of Netflix's last-remaining Marvel shows have been canceled by the video streaming service. The Punisher is done after two seasons and Jessica Jones will be finished after its still-unreleased third season.
Movies & TV

Bill and Ted 3 celebrates the franchise's 30th birthday with excellent teaser

As the Bill and Ted franchise turns 30, a third installment that the cast and creative team call Bill and Ted Face the Music is officially in preproduction, though there are big hurdles to overcome.
Movies & TV

Amazon's Lord of the Rings series gets an interactive map of Middle-earth

Amazon Studios is betting big on its Lord of the Rings prequel series, which has a multiseason commitment and a budget of more than $1 billion. The series' first season will arrive by 2021.
Movies & TV

Here’s how to watch the 2019 Oscars livestream online

The 91st Academy Awards will air live on ABC, but there are also a number of ways to watch Hollywood's biggest night online using your mobile device, desktop, or set-top streamer. Here's how to catch the Oscars livestream.
Movies & TV

To drive its giant virtual world, Ready Player One needed a custom A.I. engine

Steven Spielberg and a visual effects team led by Roger Goyett built a new, virtual universe populated by a host of familiar characters for the Oscar-nominated Ready Player One, but they still had to maintain a powerful emotional depth in…
Movies & TV

An Obi-Wan Kenobi TV series might be headed to Disney Plus

Disney is bringing the full weight of its massive content library to its own streaming service in 2019. How will Disney Plus compare to Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime? Here's what we know so far.