The 2020 Toronto Film Festival saw a lot of unusual entries this year, in the form of movies that were filmed under conditions of social distancing and lockdown restraints. One such film is Malcolm and Marie, the Sam Levinson (Euphoria)-directed romantic drama starring Zendaya and John David Washington, whose rights Deadline reports have been bought by Netflix for around $30 million.

During a time when the lockdown was in full force, and Hollywood was anxiously waiting to find out when production could get back to filming, Levinson shot Malcolm and Marie on 35mm in black and white with help from Fotokem. The film became the first post-pandemic project to complete production, and Netflix faced stiff competition in its quest to acquire the rights to the feature.

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Malcolm and Maries tells the tale of an up-and-coming filmmaker played by Washington, who returns home with his girlfriend, played by Zendaya Coleman, from the movie premiere of his latest project, projected to be a huge critical and commercial success. Things take a turn when an unexpected revelation regarding the character's relationship surfaces and the love they have for each other is tested. Levinson expressed his happiness over the deal with the following statement.

"So grateful to this cast and crew, many of whom are my Euphoria family, for coming together during such uncertain times. We felt privileged to be able to make this film together and we did so with a lot of love. We are all thrilled that it has ended up with Netflix which is unparalleled in allowing filmmakers the freedom to tell their stories that reach audiences all over the world."

What makes the case of Malcolm and Marie so compelling isn't so much the price of its sale as the circumstances under which it was made. The project was conceptualized during the lockdown, and production on the feature was set up quickly and in secret.

The team behind the project had to take a number of precautions in order to avoid infection. This included quarantining the workers before and after the shoot, keeping the members of the cast and crew as far apart as possible, having sanitization stations available for regular disinfection procedures, keeping the action localized to a single house, and wrapping up filming in less than two weeks.

The fact that both Zenday and John David Washington are involved in the project should carry some weight with audiences when their movie releases on Netflix. Zendaya has had a tremendous fan following for years since her start as a Disney starlet, while Washinton is currently among Hollywood's hottest talents thanks to his work in Black KKKlansman, Ballers, and the recently released Tenet.

While it remains to be seen if a movie made on such short notice under such constrained circumstances will be worth the price tag of $30 million, the example set by Malcolm and Marie for filming while following social-distancing rules is currently being followed by bigger Hollywood studios as well, with mixed results. This news comes from Deadline.

Neeraj Chand