Spike Lee directs Amazon’s first ever movie

Amazon and Spike Lee team up for movie
Amazon and Spike Lee team up for movie   

Spike Lee's next film will be Amazon's first original movie and will be shown in movie theaters and online, the e-commerce giant announced Wednesday, as it looks to take on the major studios.

"Chi-Raq" was written and directed by Lee and aims to "shed light on the serious, but often overlooked issue of violence in inner city Chicago", Amazon said in a press release.

"Please don't be fooled by the title of "Chi-Raq", this new Spike Lee joint will be something very special. We have assembled a stellar cast," Lee said.

Wesley Snipes, Jennifer Hudson and Samuel L. Jackson are among the cast members.

Amazon's movie arm was launched in January in a bid to produce and acquire original movies. The U.S. e-commerce firm said filming for "Chi-Raq" wrapped last week but gave no timeline of its release.

Bob Berney, head of marketing and distribution at Amazon Studios said that the company will "collaborate with a top-tier theatrical distributor" to release the film in cinemas. Amazon also said earlier this year that it will make its movies available on its video streaming service for Prime members a couple of months after their theatrical release.

Amazon's announcement comes as the firm ramps up its original content production to compete with the likes of Netflix. Earlier this year, Jay Marine, vice president of Amazon Instant Video in Europe, told CNBC it was going to "double down" on original programming.

So far the bet has paid off with Amazon's series "Transparent" winning several Golden Globe awards. In January, the company also announced an original series with Woody Allen, highlighting the star power that it is now able to draw in.

Earlier this month, Netflix also made its first foray into films and announced four feature-length titles set to be released this year.

However, it may not be all plain sailing for the Spike Lee movie: Chicago's officials have criticized the film when it was in production saying it would hurt the image of the city and detract tourists. "Chi-Raq" is a slang term that combines Chicago and Iraq to connote violence in the city.