Janelle Monae Antebellum

Antebellum, the highly anticipated new horror film starring Janelle Monáe, is the latest film to get a straight to premium video-on-demand release after COVID-19 killed plans for a theatrical release.

The film, directed by Gerard Bush and Christopher Renz, will debut on all platforms on Sept. 18, and will still be released theatrically in select international markets. It was originally scheduled for an April theatrical release, then pushed to Aug. 21 because of the pandemic.

The announcement of the home release came Thursday from Joe Drake, chairman of Lionsgate Motion Picture Group, just days after the announcement that another big release, Disney’s Mulan, would also premiere on-demand.

Lionsgate said the films “timely themes presented the studio with the opportunity to create a release plan that reaches as wide an audience as possible, as soon as possible.”

Though details of the film have been kept secret, Monáe seems to play two women, one in the modern age and one during slavery. Lionsgate says one of the characters is successful author Veronica Henley, who “finds herself trapped in a horrifying reality that forces her to confront the past, present and future – before it’s too late.” You can watch the trailer here.

“While the theatrical experience will always be the heart of our business, we are thrilled that we are able to seize the opportunity to match Gerard and Chris’s urgent and immediate film with a release strategy befitting this moment of extraordinary change,” said Drake. “Gerard and Chris are storytellers whose work beats with authenticity – not only will this film entertain and thrill audiences worldwide, but spark a discussion about our current world.”

Bush and Renz added: “While we designed Antebellum to be consumed as a communal experience in the theater, we are thrilled by the unique opportunity we have to pivot to a different kind of communal moment in our culture. As we face the realities of systemic racism in our country, which have crescendoed to this current inflection point in 2020, we understand how imperative it is to bring Antebellum to the broadest audience possible, while also prioritizing health and safety. It is our ardent hope that by sharing our film widely, both nationally and internationally, we will transform the moviegoing experience from home into a true event.”

Antebellum is the feature film debut for Renz and Bush, who write and produce in addition to directing. They teamed with QC Entertainment, producer of the acclaimed films Get Out and BlacKkKlansman, Zev Foreman, Lezlie Wills, and Lionsgate.

Besides Monáe, the film stars Eric Lange, Jena Malone, Jack Huston, Kiersey Clemons, Gabourey Sidibe, Marque Richardson, Robert Aramayo, Lily Cowles, and Tongayi Chirisa. It is produced by Raymond Mansfield, Sean McKittrick, Zev Foreman, Bush, Renz, and Lezlie Wills.

Check out our interview with Janelle Monáe about Antebellum in the latest issue of MovieMaker Magazine.