Regina King building Oscar buzz for feature film directorial debut ‘One Night in Miami’

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Regina King [NBC photo]

Amazon Studios has set a release date for Oscar and Emmy winner Regina King’s feature directorial debut, “One Night in Miami,” which has already earned widespread acclaim and Oscar buzz on the festival circuit.

The celebrated film will open in select theaters on Dec. 25, followed by a global launch on Jan. 15, exclusively on Prime Video.

Producers are Jess Wu Calder and Keith Calder of Snoot Entertainment and Jody Klein of ABKCO. King and Powers are executive producers. Chris Harding and Paul O. Davis also executive produce, according to a news release.

“To complete and release a film within the same year is a difficult task. We welcomed the challenge because we knew now was the time for this film to be released. Amazon fully supported our intention and I could not be more excited this prescient story will be seen across the globe,” King says in a statement.

“One Night in Miami” is adapted by Olivier Award-nominated writer Kemp Powers from his 2013 stage play.

Since 2013, the film’s director also has been busy: King has won an Oscar and four Emmys for acting, all while developing a reputation as an in-demand television director, notes. She has worked on popular shows like “Scandal,” “This Is Us” and “Insecure” and had planned to make her feature film directorial debut on a comedy she’d developed with her sister, until she decided instead to spend “One Night in Miami.”

“I’m really interested in being able to tell a love story with a real historical event as the backdrop,” King tells

“(It) truly captures the conversation and the reflections of the Black man’s experience more than anything that I’ve ever seen.”

Set on the night of Feb. 25, 1964, the story follows a young Cassius Clay (Eli Goree) – before he became Muhammad Ali – as he emerges from the Miami Beach Convention Center the new World Heavyweight Boxing Champion. Against all odds, he defeated Sonny Liston and shocked the sports world. While crowds of people swarm Miami Beach to celebrate the match, Clay – unable to stay on the island because of Jim Crow-era segregation laws – instead spends the night at the Hampton House Motel in one of Miami’s historically Black neighborhoods celebrating with three of his closest friends: activist Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir), singer Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.) and football star Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge). The next morning, the four men emerge determined to define a new world for themselves and their people.

“I was looking for great actors who knew that they should be sleeping, breathing, drinking who they were playing every step of the way,” King tells

“It was quite fantastic to be the fifth wheel. … (The actors) knew the journey we were about to go on, that this was not a time to be doing any impersonations or caricatures. … This could’ve gone south quickly, but they trusted me to guide them, or lure them back, or caution them from going to some places. They listened, understood that the nuanced moments are the ones that capture the audience’s hearts and ears.”

Following its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival and Toronto International Film Festival, “One Night in Miami” has achieved critical praise across the board, rapidly building buzz in this year’s Oscar race. King is considered a likely candidate to be the first Black woman ever nominated for the Academy Award for Best Director.

The film also features original song “Speak Now” written by Odom and Sam Ashford, and performed by Odom. ABKCO will release the official “One Night in Miami” original soundtrack album in conjunction with the film.


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