And yet another one bites the theatrical dust. First reported by Deadline, but confirmed by The Playlist, Lee Daniels’ awards season contender “The United States vs. Billie Holiday” is headed to Hulu. The period drama will still release on the streamer domestically in time for Oscar consideration.
Announced as a Paramount Pictures acquisition in July, it appears that while the studio was working on marketing and publicity efforts, the deal was never officially signed. With major markets still shuttered because of the pandemic, the goal of getting the film into theaters in February was simply too high a mountain to climb. “Billie Holiday” joins other expected Paramount releases such as “The Trial of the Chicago 7” (Netflix) and “Coming to America 2” (Prime Video) to head to streaming platforms.
Hulu has had notable success with other films expected to go in theaters such as “Palm Springs,” “Run” and “Happiest Season.” Both “Palm Springs” and “Happiest Season” had token theatrical releases. It’s assumed that will also be the case with “Billie,” but what studio will handle that remains to be seen.
Because Paramount had been working on “Billie” since the summer, a trailer and poster are ready to go, making Hulu’s campaign slightly easier.
Based on the novel “Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs” by Johann Hari and adapted by Susan Lori-Parks, “Billie” chronicles the almost decade long FBI witch hunt to defame the legendary jazz singer. Andra Day makes a dazzling acting debut as Holiday and should earn genuine awards consideration. The cast also includes Trevante Rhodes, Garrett Hedlund, Natasha Lyonne, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Evan Ross and Miss Lawrence.
Daniels is a two-time Oscar nominee as a producer and director of “Precious.” His other credits include “The Paperboy,” “The Butler” and FOX’s “Empire.”
Hulu has not officially announced the acquisition or a release date.