Netflix is turning a Rihanna meme into an actual movie


The internet just willed a film into existence.

Netflix has acquired the rights to a film project based on the famous meme of pop star Rihanna and actress Lupita Nyong’o, Entertainment Weekly reported. Selma director Ava DuVernay will direct the film, while Issa Rae, creator of HBO’s Insecure, is in talks to write the script.

In 2014, Getty photographer Pascal Le Segretain photographed Rihanna and Nyong’o sitting together at the Miu Miu fashion show. The photo, above, quickly became a meme on Tumblr, as users joked that the pair looked like two characters in a heist movie—the master thief (Rihanna) and her computer-hacker sidekick (Nyong’o).

The meme then took on a life of its own, resurfacing last month on Twitter, where it was shared hundreds of thousands of times and caught the attention of both women.

Rihanna and Nyong’o each quipped that they were interested in fulfilling the internet’s dream, and soon enough DuVernay and Rae had been added to the imaginary film’s team. Except now it’s not just an internet fantasy.

According to EW, Netflix won an aggressive bidding war for the concept at this week’s Cannes Film Festival. The streaming service has developed a reputation for buying up unusual, creative projects, but this has to be its most extraordinary yet. If Cannes’ operators were hoping Netflix would act less like a disruptor and more like a traditional Hollywood distributor, then they won’t be thrilled to discover the company just greenlit a film based on a meme.

It’s unclear if the original Tumblr or Twitter users who concocted the meme will be granted a credit on the film, or if they’ll be financially compensated for ideating the project. We’re in uncharted territory here.

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