The film, which is directed by Lee Daniels and stars Andra Day as the legendary jazz and blues singer, was being shopped to streaming services by CAA Media Finance. The film was originally set up at Paramount Pictures, but with most U.S. theaters closed due to coronavirus, it was difficult to figure out a viable way to distribute the movie in a traditional manner. Paramount won the domestic rights to the film in auction at this year’s Cannes, but apparently the sale never closed. That may be the case, but Paramount had been preparing advertising material and overseeing reshoots.
The deal gives Hulu a major Academy Awards contender at a time when streaming services such as Netflix, Apple and Amazon are on the prowl for Oscars. Day’s work has earned a lot of awards buzz, while Daniels was previously nominated for directing and producing “Precious.”
“The United States vs. Billie Holiday” tells the story of how the singer’s career was derailed after she was targeted by the Federal Department of Narcotics. Holiday was the subject of an undercover sting operation led by a federal agent with whom she had a stormy love affair.
The film’s cast also includes Trevante Rhodes, Garrett Hedlund, Natasha Lyonne, and Da’Vine Joy Randolph. “The United States vs. Billie Holiday” was originally slated to debut in theaters on February 26, 2021. Hulu’s other original films include “Palm Springs,” “Big Time Adolescence,” “I Am Greta,” and “Bad Hair.”