Daniel Kaluuya and Lena Waithe to Team for 'Queen & Slim' at Universal

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From left: Lena Waithe, Daniel Kaluuya, Melina Matsoukas

The film, which will be helmed by Melina Matsoukas, is described as a 'Bonnie and Clyde' story that revolves around a black couple who end up killing a police officer in self-defense and go on the run.

After a heated bidding war, Brad Weston's Makeready has closed a deal to finance Queen & Slim, a hot feature package with a script by Emmy winner Lena Waithe (Master of None) and to star Get Out breakout Daniel Kaluuya. The film is based on an idea and treatment from best-selling author James Frey (A Million Little Pieces, Katerina) and story by Waithe and Frey

The script is described as a Bonnie and Clyde story that centers on a black couple out on a first date whose night goes terribly awry. They end up killing a police officer in self-defense and, on the run, head to Cuba.

Melina Matsoukas, best known for helming HBO’s Insecure and Beyonce’s "Formation" music video, is set to make her feature directorial debut with the film.

Since his breakout performance in Jordan Peele's Get Out (for which he was nominated for an Oscar), Kaluuya has become one of the most in-demand actors in Hollywood. He also appeared in Ryan Coogler's Black Panther, and will soon be seen in Steve McQueen's Widows with Viola Davis and Michelle Rodriguez.

Kaluuya will play the titular Slim in the pic, while Matsoukas, Waithe and casting director Carmen Cuba are searching for a fresh face to play Queen.

Waithe is producing the film via her Hillman Grad Productions along with Matsoukas via her De La Revolución Films. Frey also is producing via his 3BlackDot company alongside Andrew Coles and Michelle Knudsen.

“To me, this is protest art,” said Waithe. “It’s about being black and trying to fall in love in a world that’s burning down around you.”

Added Matsoukas: "It’s a film that defines black love as a revolutionary act. It shows that our union is the greatest weapon against the assault on black people in America."

Queen & Slim, which is set to begin shooting in January, will be distributed by Universal worldwide, with eOne handling distribution in select territories including the U.K. and Canada. The film will be released in North America midweek on Nov. 27, 2019, on the eve of Thankskgving weekend. This is the first film to be greenlighted under Makeready’s recently announced distribution deal with Universal. eOne is Makeready’s lead investor.

3BlackDot also is financing.

Kaluuya is repped by CAA, Troika, Management 360 and Ziffren Brittenham.

Matsoukas has worked extensively on music videos, helming videos for Rihanna and Jennifer Lopez. She also directed episodes of Master of None, on which she worked with Waithe. Matsoukas helmed the "Thanksgiving" episode of Master of None, for which Waithe won the writing Emmy. She is repped by CAA, Knudsen at MXN Entertainment and Gang, Tyre, Ramer & Brown.

Waithe is a writer and actress who created the Showtime series The Chi. She stars as Denise on Master of None and recently appeared in Steven Spielberg's Ready Player One. Waithe is handled by WME, Coles at The Mission Entertainment and Del, Shaw, Moonves, Tanaka, Finkelstein & Lezcano. 

Frey is repped by CAA, Guymon Casady at Management 360 and David Krintzman at Morris Yorn.

The deal was brokered by WME.