The original plan was to release Lee’s latest in 2016, but Amazon was so enthusiastic about the picture’s award prospects they decided to push it up. Roadside Attractions and Lionsgate handled Chi-Raq‘s theatrical release, and it ended up doing fairly well, making around $2.5 million at the box office. It seemed like a last-minute call to put the picture in theaters this month, but the decision paid off.
Amazon will make the film available to stream for Amazon Prime customers at no additional cost on February 4th — two months after its theatrical debut. As The Wrap points out, that’s shorter than the three-month window theater owners generally prefer. But it’s less likely they’ll have a problem with Amazon making this film available to stream after a two-month theatrical run, compared to Netflix’s day-and-date strategy for Beasts of No Nation.
Chi-Raq — which is about gang violence and clashes with the police — is inspired by the classical Greek comedy Lysistrata. Lee’s film, which drew some misguided outrage for its initial comedic trailer, stars Samuel L. Jackson (The Hateful Eight), Teyonah Parris (Dear White People), John Cusack (Love & Mercy), Wesley Snipes (Brooklyn’s Finest), Nick Cannon (America’s Got Talent), Angela Bassett (American Horror Story), and Jennifer Hudson (Dreamgirls).