Netflix’s Meme Project: Rihanna and Lupita team up for heist movie
James R | On 23, May 2017
It’s happening. The dream that the Internet had one day is actually happening. Lupita Nyong’o and Rihanna are actually teaming up to make an actual heist movie.
If that pitch sounds familiar, it’s because you saw it on Tumblr two years ago, when “elizabitchtaylor” found a photo of the Star Wars and 12 Years a Slave star and the Grammy winner hanging in the front row of a Miu Miu fashion show and came up with this immortal description: “They look like they’re in a heist movie with Rihanna as the tough-as-nails leader/master thief and Lupita as the genius computer hacker”. The post, inevitably, went viral.
Fast forward to 2017 and the web’s collective wish is coming true, with both Lupita and Rihanna joking that they’d be up for the project – and Twitter users asking Ava DuVernay to direct the movie.
— Lupita Nyong'o (@Lupita_Nyongo) April 21, 2017
I'm in Pit'z https://t.co/Kz0o3lBEmL
— Rihanna (@rihanna) April 23, 2017
Ava joined in too…
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) April 24, 2017
… to which the Internet responded with calls for Issa Rae to write the script.
— Issa Rae (@IssaRae) April 23, 2017
Fast forward one month and that’s exactly what’s going down, in a rare example of a crowd-sourced pitch turning into a fully-fledged project. If that all sounds a little ridiculous, nobody’s taking it lightly: Entertainment Weekly reports that the whole thing prompted a “dramatic negotiation session” at the Cannes Film Festival, where Netflix emerged on top with the rights to the project. The “aggressive bid” was enough to trump multiple other contenders.
The news comes as Netflix debuts its first two films at the French film festival – Okja and The Meyerowitz Stories (you can read our reviews of them here) – and the streaming service’s ability to own one of the coolest sounding projects on the Croisette is only testament to how much of a disruptor it has become. (Indeed, DuVernay has already worked with with the streaming service to make the Netflix original documentary 13th.)
Vanity Fair has since reported that Rae’s representatives promise “the original Twitter users who imagined the concept for this film will be credited and included in some form”, while production on the film is hoped to start in 2018, after DuVernay has finished her current project, Disney’s A Wrinkle in Time. Rae is reportedly already working on the script. As for Rihanna, she’s wasting no time in inspiring more online imaginations, waltzing down the Cannes red carpet like the world’s most successful scammer.
This looks like the end of that Rihanna x Lupita scammer movie and im so into it ???? pic.twitter.com/PQTA4keykH
— Sana chijeukimbap (@AFangirlPotato) May 19, 2017
As for Netflix, the news is only going to boost the VOD service’s reputation in the eyes of everyone who liked, retweeted, commented or clicked on that photo – and, because Netflix doesn’t have to worry about cinema box office returns, it doesn’t matter whether the end result is the best thing ever or Snakes on a Plane 2. Talk about memes come true.