Netflix's 'Malcolm & Marie,' With Zendaya and John David Washington, Drops Into Oscar Race (Exclusive)

Zendaya sits with John David Washington in 'Malcolm & Marie'
Courtesy of Netflix

Zendaya and John David Washington in 'Malcolm & Marie.'

Ahead of Friday's SAG Awards submission deadline, a decision has been made to release Sam Levinson's Malcolm & Marie — a two-hander that stars BlacKkKlansman and Tenet actor John David Washington and Euphoria actress Zendaya — into the current awards season, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

Netflix, which acquired the black-and-white film for $30 million in September following a screening of select footage that resulted in bidding war between several distributors, will release it worldwide on its streaming platform Feb. 5, 2021, and plans to wage a full-fledged Oscar campaign on its behalf.

A never-before-seen still of the film appears at the top of this post.

Malcolm & Marie — which Levinson wrote and directed, and which has been likened to Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? — tells the story of a director (Washington) and his girlfriend (Zendaya) whose relationship is tested after they return home from the premiere of his latest project and await the critical response to it.

The film was shot in 35 mm over the summer at Feldman Architecture’s Caterpillar House in Carmel, California, using a bare-bones crew amid the pandemic. The production teamed with doctors and lawyers to make sure that every aspect of their work was fully compliant with WGA, DGA and SAG-AFTRA approvals and COVID-19 safety protocols.

Levinson is also a producer of the film, while Zendaya (who today appears on the 50th anniversary cover of Essence magazine) and Washington are executive producers, as are rapper Kid Cudi; Yariv Milchan, the son of Oscar-nominated producer Arnon Milchan; and Michael Schaefer of New Regency.

Levinson and Zendaya previously worked together on Euphoria, the HBO program for which the latter won this year's best actress in a drama series Emmy. Levinson and Washington, meanwhile, are members of revered Hollywood families — Levinson is the son of Oscar winner Barry Levinson and Washington is the son of Oscar winner Denzel Washington — as are one of the other producers, Levinson's wife Ashley Levinson, and one of the other executive producers, Washington's sister Katia Washington.

The Levinsons and Kevin Turen produced the film through their production company, which is also behind another 2020-21 Netflix awards hopeful, Pieces of a Woman.