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Back in February 2018, New Regency, the Hollywood production company behind The Revenant and Bohemian Rhapsody, took a meeting with Donald Glover, who has won Emmys as the creator of FXs Atlanta and won Grammys as his musical alter ego, Childish Gambino. Glover didnt have a script, but he did have an idea hed been toying with and a month-long window in between his summer promotional duties for Solo: A Star Wars Story and his fall tour.

The New Regency suits said yes on the spot, and with good reason. While “This Is America,” Glovers 2018 viral music video, wouldnt splash down until May, he had at that point already amassed more cultural caché than some artists can muster in a lifetime—and he came with a proven track record for creating the kind of content (lyrical, funny, shocking, socially engaged, mysterious) that can capture the ever-more fickle attention spans of young viewers. It is, in a phrase, Rihanna-level clout, as certified by the pop stars eventual casting as Glovers love interest in the film.

Such influence also undeniably helped when Jennifer Salke, the head of Amazon Studios, decided to plunk down a hefty chunk of the e-tailers change to distribute the film based on her watching a four-and-a-half minute sizzle reel via a one-time viewing link that expired 30 minutes after she received it. (Neither New Regency nor Amazon would discuss the size of their respective deals.)

“I would have committed to Donald sight unseen.” she said. “I knew whatever he wanted to amplify would have relevance and be entertaining. He has that ability to create cultural moments and spread a message thats interesting.”

When Guava Island, the resulting music-driven hour-long film shot largely in secret in Havana, has its premiere Thursday night on the Coachella campgrounds on the eve of the valleys annual Music and Arts Festival, it will be many things: public unveiling, artists statement, and teaser for Glovers headlining slot the next night. But it will also be the latest shot in the content wars, in which burgeoning platforms work to distinguish themselves from one another by curating cultural stunts designed to create their own Lemonade-sized, days-long moment. Thanks to the deals Glover and New Regency made with Amazon, the movie will go wide on Amazon Prime for free for 18 hours beginning at 12:01 A.M. P.T. on Saturday. It will also stream on Amazons Twitch platform, once at 5 P.M. P.T. on Saturday, while simulcast on Coachellas YouTube Channel.

Inspired by Fernando Meirelless Brazilian crime drama City of God and Princes Purple Rain, the movie, written by Glovers brother, Stephen, is a tropical thriller in which Glovers local musician character is determined to throw a festival for his island community. In addition to Rihanna, the cast includes Letitia Wright, of Black Panther fame. Shooting in Cuba, which still lacks Wi-Fi in areas, allowed its team, including frequent Glover collaborator director Hiro Murai, to live that real-life communal experience in real time.

“There was a bootcamp everyone went through when they came in. You get to see what happens to your brain when you cant Google every single question you have,” said Carmen Cuba, who produced the film alongside Glover and his frequent collaborator Fam Udeorji, in an interview Wednesday.

The setting also helped keep the production, nicknamed Dionysus, shrouded in secrecy. Thats how Glover and his team like to work. With the exception of a photo of the two leads that leaked out during production and the teaser trailer Glover revealed at his own music festival, the New Zealand-based PharosRead More – Source

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Vanity Fair

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