It was expected that this would be a slower festival season for acquisitions because of the pandemic. But if there’s anything that most of us did more of during the pandemic, it was Netflix. And Netflix needs more content. So it seems like they showed up (virtually) at TIFF with a fleet of Brinks trunks and have made the two biggest deals of the festival to date. Earlier this week I posted about Halle Berry’s $20 million deal for Bruised and at the same time Netflix was paying Halle, they were also putting up $30 million for Sam Levinson’s Malcolm & Marie, starring John David Washington and Zendaya. That is huge, especially when you consider the film probably wasn’t made for that much money, all things considered. Because it’s the “first post-pandemic film to complete production”, shot between June 17-July 2 in one location, with proper safety measures in place, and Zendaya styled herself and did her own hair and makeup. The project was only conceived after the lockdown in March, when Zendaya reached out to Sam (Euphoria showrunner) and asked him to write and direct a movie with her. Sam produced, Zendaya and JDW executive produced (alongside a few others), and while the film is still in post, they screened about 20 minutes of promo footage for studios and streamers which resulted in a lot of interest and now…
$30 million from Netflix.
That, as they say, is innovation. As for the money, per Deadline:
“The film was shot at a modest budget and some of the key below the liners made deals that profit off the back end. The big sale will make that a reality and a big help for a time that work is difficult to find.”
Seriously, reading that made me horny. In extreme circumstances, they found a way to be creative that, literally, benefits everyone. Some of the proceeds from the Netflix deal will be donated to Feeding America.
And it’s not like Netflix is just giving away money to be charitable. They’re putting up $30 million because they must think they have a good chance of recouping the investment and more. So clearly they have confidence in whatever they saw in these 20 minutes and since it’s a relationship drama, about Zendaya and JDW having to confront the flaws in their romance, needless to say, they think this will be an algorithm pleaser. I was ready the minute I saw the first photo:
I want love scenes. I want arguments. I want crying and making up and make up sex (and also good makeup and hair and outfits) and more crying and angst and sadness and beautiful framing and lighting and shot selection.
Zendaya at the Emmys for her first nomination this Sunday in the Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series category. She’s not the favourite (Jennifer Aniston is) but she’s promised to pull a look. The Emmys of Zendaya in just four sleeps.