Last month, a 2014 photo of Rihanna and Lupita Nyong'o, who were both sitting in the front row of a Miu Miu fashion show, went viral, with several social media users crafting a movie idea around this image alone. It all started with one Twitter user dubbed "@1800SADGAL" calling for a heist movie where Rihanna would play the "tough-as-nails leader/master thief", with Lupita Nyong'o portraying "the genius computer hacker." During the Cannes Film Festival, Netflix actually picked up this project, which will star both actresses with Ava DuVernay set to direct from a script by Insecure creator Issa Rae.
Entertainment Weekly reports that Netflix closed a deal for the concept of this Meme Movie, which still doesn't have a title, during a "dramatic negotiation session." There were several other buyers bidding for the project, but Netflix won with an "aggressive bid" that secured the rights. Another report from Vanity Fair confirms that Issa Rae is already working on the screenplay, and that the original Twitter users who came up with the concept "will be credited and included in some form." After the original Tumblr post started to go viral, the pitch made it to Lupita Nyong'o, who tagged Rihanna on Twitter and said, "I'm down if you are," with Rihanna resonding, "I'm it, Pit'z" just a few days later.
Several Twitter users then reached out to both director Ava DuVernay and writer Issa Rae, who both confirmed on the social media platform that they were on board. EW's sources reveal that the filmmakers and the actresses are eyeing an early 2018 production start, after Ava DuVernay finishes her work on the upcoming Disney adaptation of A Wrinkle In Time. While Rihanna is best known as a Grammy-winning recording artist, she has been acting more and more as of late. The actress/singer made her feature film debut in 2012's Battleship, and was featured in movies such as This Is the End as herself, Annie as Moon Goddess, the animated feature Home where she voiced Gratuity "Tip" Tucci, and most recently, the final two episodes of Bates Motel.
Later this year, she will star in the sci-fi thriller Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets and she also stars in another heist movie due out next year, Ocean's Eight, a remake of the Ocean's Eleven franchise with an all-female cast that includes Sandra Bullock, Cate Blanchett, Helena Bonham Carter, Mindy Kaling, Elizabeth Banks, Anne Hathaway and Awkwafina. Lupita Nyong'o won an Oscar for her powerful performance in 12 Years a Slave, and she's been working non-stop ever since, including a role in Non-Stop with Liam Neeson. She portrayed Maz Kanata in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, a role she will reprise in Star Wars: The Last Jedi, and she also voiced Raksha in the Disney hit The Jungle Book. Next year she will play Nakia in the Marvel adventure Black Panther.
Ava DuVernay is currently in post-production on A Wrinkle in Time, which makes the director the first African-American female director to make a movie that cost more than $100 million. Issa Rae has been set to star alongside Bill Hader in Empress of Serenity, which is currently in pre-production, and the HBO series Insecure, which she both stars in and co-created with Larry Wilmore, has been picked up for a second season, which will likely air later this year on HBO. Take a look at all of the tweets from last month that lead to this unusual project moving forward through Netflix, including the photo of Rihanna and Lupita Nyong'o from a fashion show that started it all.