Netflix has announced a release date for Malcolm & Marie. Starring Zendaya—our cover girl for ESSENCE’s November/December issue— and John David Washington, who also serve as co-executive producers, the highly anticipated film made headlines for being one of the first major projects to shoot during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The production sequestered the stars and their skeleton crew at Feldman Architecture’s Caterpillar House in Carmel, California. Executives served as stand-ins, craft services staff and script supervisors so that the least amount of people possible had to be on set at one time.
They filmed for two weeks in secret. According to Variety, production reportedly also partnered with medical professionals and legal advisors, ensuring that the shoot was aligned with the COVID-19 safety protocols established by WGA, DGA and SAG-AFTRA. The set’s glass windows and indoor/outdoor layout helped achieve their goals and Zendaya and Washington each contributed to the financing to help keep everyone safe.
“I love being able to create what I want to see made. I’m also really interested in cinematography. Maybe I’ll become a director, or a director of photography. I am just really taking in all that knowledge and learning as much as I can. I really love the art of actually making film,” Zendaya said to ESSENCE.
Malcolm & Marie follows a young filmmaker on the verge of unprecedented commercial success (Washington). On the night of his movie premiere, he and his girlfriend (Zendaya) prepare to hear what the critics think about the film, however they are forced to confront the severe cracks in their relationship. Soon an evening that began in celebration sees the pair learning just how strong their love really is.
Kid Cudi is one of the film’s producers.
The project was written and directed by Sam Levinson. Levinson is the creator of HBO’s Euphoria. Zendaya became the youngest actress to win the Emmy award for lead actress in a drama for her role as the show’s drug-addled teenage anti-hero Rue proving the pair is clearly capable of creating serious magic.
Critics are already comparing the movie to the classic dark comedy Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, hinting that the ingenue might be coming for her second significant statue. Malcolm & Marie will premiere on the streaming service February 5, 2021.