With the COVID pandemic leading to a shift in how movies were released in 2020, Hulu hasn’t generated as much conversation as the streaming giant Netflix, or the major controversy surrounding HBO Max. While Hulu has gotten some big hits this year thanks to Run and the holiday hit Happiest Season, the closest thing they had to an awards contender was Palm Springs, and that’s a pretty big long shot for any major awards. Their fortune may be about to change, however, as Deadline reports that the streamer is in final talks to acquire The United States vs. Billie Holiday, one of the last few unknowns still looking to make a splash in this year’s race.
Directed by Lee Daniels, the film currently has a theatrical release scheduled for February 26th, 2021, courtesy of Paramount. Details of the Hulu deal are still unknown, which means that a theatrical release may or may not still be on the cards alongside a streaming premiere. It should be noted that of those three other Hulu releases from this year Palm Springs is the only one that got any theatrical release in the US, in select drive-ins.
The United States vs. Billie Holiday stars Grammy nominated musician Andra Day in her film debut (apart from a voice role in Cars 3) as Holiday, following the singer as she’s targeted by the Federal Department of Narcotics led by Jimmy Fletcher, whom she would begin a romantic relationship with. It is based on the book Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs by Johann Hari, and co-stars Trevante Rhodes as Fletcher, alongside Garett Hedlund, Natasha Lyonne, and Da’Vine Joy Randolph.
If the deal is secured, one imagines Hulu will be looking for Daniels’ film to make a splash in this very chaotic awards season, with particular buzz brewing all year long for Day’s performance. Daniels was last in the awards conversation for the 2013 film Lee Daniels’ The Butler, which received many nominations including three at the SAG Awards, yet ended up being snubbed entirely by the Oscars.