After a dramatic negotiation session at the Cannes Film Festival, Netflix has nabbed a film project pairing Grammy winner Rihanna with Oscar winner Lupita Nyong’o, in a concept that began as a Twitter sensation. Ava DuVernay (Selma) will direct, and Issa Rae (Insecure) is writing the screenplay. According to sources, Netflix landed the project in a very aggressive bid, beating out multiple other suitors. Netflix had no comment.
The project began as an online meme when the photo below — a shot that was taken in 2014 of the two women in the front row of a Miu Miu fashion show — went viral, prompting calls to turn it into a movie.
Rihanna looks like she scams rich white men and lupita is the computer smart best friend that helps plan the scans https://t.co/PhWs1xd3nj
— kateria ? (@artthekid) 18 avril 2017
Twitter users went so far as to ask for DuVernay (who is in post-production on A Wrinkle in Time for Disney) to direct, with Rae (whose second season of HBO’s Insecure will debut on July 23) to write. Soon after, all four women pledged their support to the project on the social media platform.
— Lupita Nyong'o (@Lupita_Nyongo) 21 avril 2017
I'm in Pit'z https://t.co/Kz0o3lBEmL
— Rihanna (@rihanna) 23 avril 2017
Since then, the buzz has only intensified, with some creating concept art of the “scammer story” they envisioned with Rihanna playing a woman who cons white men, while her brilliant co-conspirator (played by Nyong’o) orchestrates the heists. It’s unclear how faithful Rae will remain to the crowd-sourced concept. (Since this piece was published, reps for Rae told Vanity Fair “the original Twitter users who imagined the concept for this film will be credited and included in some form.”) Sources say Rae is already working on the script and the studio is eyeing a production start of 2018 after DuVernay completes her current film.