'Antebellum' Heads Straight to Premium VOD Amid Pandemic

Antebellum - Publicity Still 3 - H 2020
Matt Kennedy
The Janelle Monáe vehicle is written and directed by Gerard Bush and Christopher Renz.

Horror pic Antebellum is the latest Hollywood film to bypass a theatrical debut in the U.S. and head straight for premium VOD amid the ongoing novel coronavirus pandemic.

Lionsgate announced Thursday that the horror film, starring Janelle Monáe, will debut on PVOD on Sept. 18. In some select overseas markets, the pic will play in cinemas.

The film, which has seen its release date delayed twice due to the pandemic, is written and directed by Gerard Bush and Christopher Renz.

“While the theatrical experience will always be the heart of our business, we are thrilled that we are able to seize the opportunity to match Gerard and Chris’s urgent and immediate film with a release strategy befitting this moment of extraordinary change,” Lionsgate film studio chief Joe Drake said in a statement. “Gerard and Chris are storytellers whose work beats with authenticity — not only will this film entertain and thrill audiences worldwide, but spark a discussion about our current world.”

Bush and Renz added, “While we designed Antebellum to be consumed as a communal experience in the theater, we are thrilled by the unique opportunity we have to pivot to a different kind of communal moment in our culture. As we face the realities of systemic racism in our country, which have crescendoed to this current inflection point in 2020, we understand how imperative it is to bring Antebellum to the broadest audience possible, while also prioritizing health and safety. It is our ardent hope that by sharing our film widely, both nationally and internationally, we will transform the moviegoing experience from home into a true event.”

In Antebellum, Monáe plays successful author Veronica Henley, a figure who finds herself seemingly trapped in the past and is forced to discover the truth behind her experience before it’s too late.

The movie is the first feature directed and written by Bush and Renz, who are best known for their pioneering advertising work engaged in the fight for social justice.

Eric Lange, Jena Malone, Jack Huston, Kiersey Clemons, Gabourey Sidibe, Marque Richardson, Robert Aramayo and Lily Cowles also star, alongside newcomer Tongayi Chirisa.