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‘Chi-raq’ to be Amazon’s first original film

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Movie posters from the set of "Chi-raq."

CHICAGO — Amazon’s first-ever original movie will be Spike Lee’s “Chi-Raq,” the company announced Wednesday. The controversial film with a focus on violence in Chicago was shot entirely in the city and wrapped up last week.

“Chi-raq” features a cast including Nick Cannon, Wesley Snipes, Jennifer Hudson and Teyonah Parris, as well as D.B. Sweeney, Harry Lennix, Steve Harris and Angela Bassett, plus John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson. The film is directed by Lee.

“I’m honored to be part of the film that will launch Amazon Studios and to tell a story that is so important,” Lee said. “Please don’t be fooled by the title of ‘Chi-Raq'”

Some city leaders and community activists have said that they don’t like the name “Chi-raq.” They believe it may be used to glorify Chicago’s violence.

Ted Hope, Head of Motion Picture Production at Amazon Studios, says this might be Lee’s greatest film yet.

“He has a unique voice, a distinct eye, and he tackles important subjects with humor and heart, pointing to solutions and not exploiting the problems. ‘Chi-Raq’ may be his greatest, and definitely his boldest film yet—everything about it is distinctive,” Hope said.

Amazon Original Movies, announced in January, was formed to produce and acquire original movies for theatrical release as well as distribution to its Amazon Prime members.

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