Amazon Buys Rihanna Documentary for $25 Million

Published on December 15, 2019

One of the many disappointments of 2019: no new album from Rihanna. She’s been hard at work on her ninth album in the years since her previous masterwork, Anti, which was released in January 2016.

Rihanna’s new album was expected to arrive this year, but unless a glorious miracle or wonderful surprise happens in the next two weeks, its release doesn’t look likely until 2020.

In the meantime, we do have concrete news regarding a Rihanna documentary to please fans. Amazon has acquired director Peter Ber’s documentary on the superstar. 

A Big Payday

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Amazon paid a hefty price for the long-awaited doc.

The price tag? $25 million.

A lot of money, but Rihanna is worth every cent and more. Amazon secured the worldwide distribution rights, for the exact same price Apple+ paid for a recent Billie Eilish doc. Amazon declined to release an official statement about the massive deal, but several distributors were circling the project.

The streamers went after it hard, and in the end, Amazon came out on top. 

The Untitled Doc

The Rihanna-Berg collaboration was first announced over four years. It was expected to come out last year, but perhaps the delay of Rihanna’s next album is a part of why we haven’t seen it yet. Maybe it’s release will be timed to her next album. 

Originally, the documentary was described in the vein of D.A. Pennebaker’s classic Bob Dylan doc, Don’t Look Back. An “unfiltered look into Rihanna’s life and how she’s ascended to become a global icon” was the official synopsis.

As Berg told SlashFilm last year, it’s a character-driven doc about hustle and vision: 

I think she’s an extraordinary young woman and it really is kind of a pretty comprehensive profile of what goes into making her this talent that she is. The work ethic, the talent, luck, the hustle, the vision. She’s a really, really interesting woman.”

Recently, Berg wrapped shooting another Mark Wahlberg movie, Wonderland, a detective story based on a character created by Robert B. Parker. It’s a Netflix production that co-stars Post Malone, making it the musician’s acting debut.

Berg didn’t give Rihanna the acting debut she deserved and didn’t come close to capturing her charisma on screen with Battleship, but maybe with a doc, he’ll show the real star she is this time. Berg’s docs on legends, like hockey star Wayne Gretzky and boxing trainer Freddie Roach, tend to entertain and humanize the greats.

Apparently, Berg shot over a 1,200 hours of footage of Rihanna, so he had plenty to work with for his doc. 

Album Nine

Rihanna has kept her next album tightly under wraps, impressively so. She’s teased the album here and there, but shared no major details. Why spoil the surprise and all the fun, right?

We do know it’s a reggae album, inspired by Bob Marley and produced by Supa Dups. A “reggae” album perhaps isn’t an accurate description, though, since Rihanna says it’s more reggae-inspired. She’s said it’s not typical reggae music.

Even though R9 has yet to drop on the world-at-large, Rihanna is already starting to think about her tenth album and how it’ll represent where she’s going next as a museum. If her next album is as satisfying as Anti, it’ll be worth the wait. 

What Else is Rihanna Working?

Most recently, Rihanna added another acting credit to her resumé with Hiro Murai’s (Atlanta) Guava Island, which she starred in alongside Donald Glover.

The hour-long film was released on Amazon Prime, as was Rihanna’s Savage X Fenty Show. For good reason, they want to stay in the Rihanna business, a business that is always booming. She’s dominating the music and the cosmetics industry at the moment.

Her cosmetics brand, Fenty Beauty, and lingerie line, Savage X Fenty, are killing it as they sell top-shelf products known for inclusivity. Anything she touches almost always turns to gold.

Jack Giroux is a Staff Writer at Grit Daily. Based in Los Angeles, he is an entertainment journalist who's previously written for Thrillist, Slash Film, Film School Rejects, and The Film Stage.

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