Hulu buys Lee Daniels’ ‘The United States vs. Billie Holiday’

The film was initially set for release at Paramount Pictures

Hulu is in the final talks to acquire domestic distribution rights to The United States vs. Billie Holiday.

Directed by Lee Daniels and starring singer Andra Day as Billie Holiday, the film was initially set for release at Paramount Pictures. Paramount won the domestic rights to the movie in auction at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, per Variety.

The film was slated to debut on Feb. 26, but with most theaters closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, it was challenging to distribute the movie in a typical manner. It is not clear if a Paramount theatrical release will be part of the new deal with Hulu.

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According to Variety, details of the Hulu deal have not yet been finalized. Still, they’re expecting that the film will qualify for awards season. Hulu has been a significant Academy Awards contender at a time when streaming services like Netflix, Apple, and Amazon are also hoping to win Oscars.

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The “Rise Up” singer has received Oscar buzz for her work in the film, while Daniels previously was nominated for directing and producing Precious.

In “The United States vs. Billie Holiday,” the singer who struggled with a heroin addiction was targeted by the Federal Department of Narcotics. She was the subject of an undercover sting operation led by a federal agent with whom she had a torrid love affair. Lee Daniels Empire Finale
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – APRIL 23: Lee Daniels attends the TIME 100 Gala 2019 Lobby Arrivals at Jazz at Lincoln Center on April 23, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images for TIME)

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Holiday’s song, “Strange Fruit,” is featured in the film. The song laments the lynchings in the South that terrorized Blacks for decades and is considered one of the earliest protest songs in the United States. Today, with the relentless murders of Black people by police, the song is still relevant.

The cast of “The United States vs. Billie Holiday” also includes Trevante Rhodes, Garrett Hedlund, Natasha Lyonne, and Da’Vine Joy Randolph.

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