Spike Lee Took ‘Chi-raq’ To Amazon Because “Everyone Said No”
In a sea of no’s, Spike Lee says you only need one yes. And the director reveals that the theatrical release for his controversial film Chi-raq got that sole yes from Amazon.
It was recently revealed that Amazon would be making its first endeavor into major, blockbuster films with its theatrical release of the parody film on Dec. 4. Alongside its theater debut, the film will also be released exclusively to Amazon subscribers. Although it seems like a sweet deal, Spike Lee later leaked that it wasn’t only because of Amazon’s name and reputation. It was also because Amazon was the only one to support the film.
Chi-raq, which is a parody film that focuses on the gang violence in Chicago, has a raised a lot of bad reviews and backlash from the people of Chicago and the black community. Many have said that the film exploits the city’s poor residents, while others simply don’t like the title’s connection to Iraq.
Despite all the negative feedback, Spike Lee has stood behind his latest project. And apparently his confidence in his film led him to keep searching until he found that one yes. “All it takes is one yes. You get a bunch of motherf**king no’s, but all it takes is one yes,” he said in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.
People will just have to wait until December to see if Amazon’s yes was actually a good idea. In the mean time, check out some highlights form Spike Lee’s interview with THR below.
How has independent filmmaking changed since you started?
That might as well have been a million years ago. Filmmakers like Jim [Jarmusch] and I, the only reason we went to film school was because of the equipment. We didn’t care about the MFA. You went to film school to get the equipment. Now students look at the cost of going to schools and say, “I could use that money to buy my own camera and lighting kit.” It’s a new world.
Is there a project that never got made that you someday hope to go back to?
A lot of them. I was supposed to direct [a film about] Jackie Robinson. I was supposed to direct [one about] James Brown, too. It just didn’t work out. I have a script I wrote with Budd Schulberg, about [boxers] Joe Louis and Max Schmeling. And unfortunately he died before we got it done. I made a promise, so one day we’re getting this film done. We’re doing it for Budd.
Your next film, ‘Chi-Raq,’ about Chicago gun violence, is going to be Amazon’s first feature release Dec. 4.
They’re a great company. And also everyone else said no.
Why did other companies pass?
They never give you a reason; they just say, “It’s not for us.” My co-writer Kevin Willmott and I wrote the script and went to Sundance and everybody was saying no, no, no, no, no. Amazon said yes. I tell my students, “All it takes is one yes. You get a bunch of motherf—ing nos, but all it takes is one yes.”
‘Chi-raq’ is planned for an awards run. What’s your goal with this film?
It’s really not about awards. I’m going to save lives. There’s people being shot on the streets of Chicago daily. It’s not just Chicago, it’s happening in cities all over America. It’s happening in L.A., New York — what’s Baltimore called? Bodymore, Murderland. What’s Philadelphia called? Killadelphia. There’s a major part of this film that’s about guns in our country. What is it going to take for we as people, and supposedly the most civilized country on Earth, to stop this madness? The NRA is not bigger than the United States of America.
How can real change happen?
Legislation. How is it that somebody can go in our states, like Oregon, and buy — why is a store selling an assault weapon? You don’t even hunt with an assault weapon. Why are they being sold?