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Netflix Acquires film ‘Malcolm & Marie’ for $30 Million, Staring Zendaya and John David Washington

The 2020 Toronto Film Festival Market is being dominated by Netflix. The streaming company is in the process of closing a deal for nearly $30 million to own the worldwide rights to Malcolm & Marie, the newest Sam Levison-directed romantic drama starring Zendaya and John David Washington. This announcement follows the previously made deal for Bruise, directed by Halle Berry. Bruise‘s acquisition marked the first major deal made before the film’s premiere at the festival.  Netflix also went on to acquire the award-winning Pieces of You starring Venice Best Actress Vanessa Kirby a day later.

What it Means

It’s worth noting that Malcolm & Marie was the first post-pandemic film that reached complete production. Shot in black and white during the production lockdown using 35mm technology, the film sparked rumors of a bidding war between Amazon Prime, HBO, Searchlight, MGM, Apple, Focus Features, and A24.  

A twenty-minute promo was screened by buyers late last week with Zendaya playing Washington’s girlfriend. Washington plays a director awaiting impending success after a movie premiere. As the evening unfolds, revelations surface and their relationship endures striking tests.

Malcolm & Marie was filmed at the Carmel, CA Feldman Architecture’s Caterpillar House between June 17 and July 2.  The house is infamous for its glass appearance and environmentally conscious design. The film was shot with COVID-19 safety protocols in mind and in compliance with SAG-AFTRA, the WGA, and the DGA.

What to Expect

The deal has been confirmed by Netflix, and director/writer/producer Levinson shared that he was grateful for the “cast and crew, many of whom are my Euphoria family, for coming together during such uncertain times.”  He continued, “We felt privileged to be able to make this film together and we did so with a lot of love. We are all thrilled that it ended up with Netflix which is unparalleled in allowing filmmakers freedom to tell their stories that reach audiences all over the world.”

Charity organization Feeding America also won big with the deal. The cast and crew of Malcolm & Marie agreed to donate a portion of their proceeds to help fight hunger. Shot with a modest budget, filming also allowed many below the liners to make a profit off of the back end during a time where employment has been scarce.

Endeavor Content and CAA Media Financing brokered together to close the deal.

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