Aaron Sorkin’s ‘The Trial of the Chicago 7’ Joins Bursting Netflix Oscar Slate

While Netflix had the foresight to see that this year’s awards race was not (as they usually are) going to be launched by the fall film festivals, that does not mean that the streamer is going to back off from awards campaigning. Instead, the streaming giant is already crafting a robust awards slate with both original features and earlier festival pickups, and plans to use New York’s Paris Theatre and Los Angeles’ The Egyptian as their promo and release hubs (under strict safety protocols, of course). And Netflix just added a sharp arrow to their awards quiver, plucking the worldwide rights to Aaron Sorkin’s all-star ensemble “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” originally to be released in September by Paramount and overseas distributors, for a reported $56 million.

Over at Netflix, that’s chump change. Paramount, on the other hand, could use the money, as the studio can’t show movies in theaters during the pandemic. The studio sold “The Lovebirds” to Netflix at the start of lockdown and last week moved its latest “Spongebob” movie over to sister streamer CBS All Access.

Oscar-winner Sorkin (“The Social Network”) wrote and directed the timely history lesson “The Trial of the Chicago 7,” which tracks the way a peaceful protest outside the 1968 Democratic National Convention morphed into a deadly clash with police and National Guard forces, as a horrified nation watched events unfold on television. The film will also follow the ongoing conspiracy trial, dominated by bigger-than-life protest leaders Abbie Hoffman (Sacha Baron Cohen), Jerry Rubin (Jeremy Strong), Tom Hayden (Eddie Redmayne), and Bobby Seale (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) along with their star lawyer, William Kunstler (Mark Rylance). Sorkin wanted to get the movie out before the election, per Deadline.

Netflix’s potential awards lineup also includes David Fincher’s “Mank,” starring Gary Oldman and Amanda Seyfried; Ron Howard’s “Hillbilly Elegy” (November 2020) starring Amy Adams; Charlie Kaufman’s “I’m Thinking of Ending Things” (just dated today for September 4, 2020) starring Toni Collette and Jesse Plemons; George C. Wolfe’s “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” starring Viola Davis, Denzel Washington, and Chadwick Boseman; Radha Blank’s well-received Sundance debut “The 40-Year-Old Version”; and Ramin Bahrani’s “White Tiger.” Not too shabby.

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