Hulu In Final Talks To Acquire Lee Daniels’ ‘The United States Vs. Billie Holiday’ From New Slate Ventures
EXCLUSIVE: This Christmas Eve, we hear that Hulu has signed a deal to acquire Lee Daniels' The United States vs. Billie Holiday concludes.
The film, in which Andra Day plays the lead role as the legendary jazz singer, is currently slated for Paramount's theatrical release on February 26, 2021, in time for this year's Oscar approval. However, sources say the contract with Melrose Ave. Studio never closed and it has not yet been determined whether a Paramount theatrical release will be part of the new deal with Hulu. Details of the deal aren't final, but Hulu is expected to qualify the film for the awards season, which is what Daniels wants. Paramount has trailers ready and has even worked on new recordings with production.
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CAA Media Finance mediates the deal for the USA against Billie Holiday. I understand that the new deal is more than double the current one from Paramount.
Hulu has a history of day-and-date theatrical streaming deals with Neon, and the streamer has acquired the US rights to TriStar's romantic vacation comedy, Happiest Season, starring Kristen Stewart and Mackenzie Davis, which has not been released by date . This movie premiered on Thanksgiving weekend in Hulu and became the most-viewed original movie of all time on the streamer.
Paramount is not involved in the sale of Hulu here, but in the financier New Slate Ventures. I understand that New Slate needs to make good on the money invested in the film and that a pure theatrical release would be a tough deal given that 60% of the domestic exhibition market is still closed due to Covid-19, including major markets like New York City and Los Angeles.
The United States vs. Billie Holiday accompanies the jazz singer throughout her career when she is targeted by the Federal Department of Narcotics with an undercover operation led by Agent Jimmy Fletcher (Trevante Rhodes) with whom she was having a tumultuous affair. Directed by Daniels, the picture is based on Johann Hari's novel with a script by Suzan-Lori Parks.
New Slate Ventures, Lee Daniels Entertainment and Roth Kirschenbaum Films are producing with Jordan Fudge, Lee Daniels, Pamela Oas Williams, Tucker Tooley, Joe Roth and Jeff Kirschenbaum. Executive producers are Hilary Shor, Jeremy Allen, Patty Long, Johann Hari, Cassian Elwes, Mark Bomback and Dennis Stratton.
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