The Woman King UK release date is in October. Here are 9 things to know about the film starring Viola Davis and more.
Oscar-winner Viola Davis takes on the leading role in the Hollywood film, The Woman King. The Woman King trailer has been making the rounds since its release earlier this summer by Sony Pictures Entertainment. The predominantly Black cast film, already released in the US, lands in UK cinemas on 4 October.
Here are nine things to know about the film ahead of its UK release.
The Woman King is based on a true story
The Dahomey Kingdom is the setting for The Woman King. The Dahomey Kingdom was based in West Africa in the 18th and 19th centuries, in the area now known as Benin. The empire was based on a form of absolute monarchy and was involved in slavery. One notable feature of the kingdom was the Agojie warriors, otherwise known as the Dahomey Amazons. The action-packed film follows the emotionally epic journey of General Nanisca (played by Viola) as she trains a fierce unit of female warriors (Agojie) to protect the African Kingdom of Dahomey.
The Woman King director has directed several other cultural Black classic films
Remember Love & Basketball? Well, the director of that film, Gina Prince-Bythewood, also directs The Woman King. In a prolific career, Gina has also directed The Secret Life of Bees and Netflix’s The Old Guard. Speaking on directing her latest movie to The Breakfast Club, Gina said: “To do this type of movie, it has to mean something.”
Viola Davis produced The Woman King
Viola Davis and her husband, Julius Tennon’s production company, JuVee Productions, produced The Woman King, which previously had actress Lupita Nyong’o attached to it. In an interview with the US radio show The Breakfast Club, Viola shared: “We fought for it for seven years. It’s always hard to get a movie done in Hollywood. Anyone has a hard time, but us especially, have a hard time.”
The film stars three Black British actors
John Boyega, Lashana Lynch, and Sheila Atim are three young Black British actors in The Woman King cast. All three of them are rising stars in Hollywood, with Boyega having starred in Star Wars films, Lashana making it as the first female 00 agent in the James Bond franchise, and Sheila Atim winning her second Olivia Award earlier this year for her role in Constellations. Sheila and Lashana Lynch take more of a leading role in the film, due to the nature of the female-led story, whereas Boyega, admittedly takes more of a laid-back role in the film. In an interview, he said: “I came in just being the king. I didn’t have much to do physically, they [the women] were handing everything and it’s inspirational to watch.”
The casting for Black women from across the African diaspora was also an intentional move as director, Gina Prince-Bythewood, said they wanted Black women from all different cultures to come together and tell the story as a collective, per The Breakfast Club.
Lashana Lynch was the first person Sheila called after landing the role
Sheila wasted no time in telling Lashana she had landed a role in The Woman King to Lashana Lynch. In an interview with Sway In The Morning, she said: “I messaged Lashana because I knew that she was in it but she didn’t know that I was auditioning for it… and she was like ‘we’re going to do it together!’”
Viola Davis did a 1hr 30mins daily workout for The Woman King
Gina wanted the cast to be pretty bulky for the film, which meant intense workouts. Viola did a 1hr 30min daily workout in heavy weightlifting for The Woman King role. Following this, she did three and a half hours’ worth of martial arts training. Viola also told The Breakfast Club that she did weaponry and treadmill training, all to help her get in the mindset of a warrior. The 57-year-old actor also shared that she still works out with some of her fellow cast members at her house. Speaking on how the workout experience helped her, she said: “I felt good in my body for the first time…. At first, I was like Gina wants me to bulk up, I can’t be walking around here all bulked up. And then all of a sudden, it’s a sense of pride to redefine femininity.”
There’s a Woman King workout coming out too
The Breakfast Club asked, Gina, Viola, and Thuso Mbedu if there would be a workout tutorial of their workout process during filming. They responded resoundingly with a yes. So, prepare for some bulky fitness tutorials soon, too.
Talk about the film has stirred up online controversy
Following the announcement of the film, as much as there being excitement, there has also been some controversy around the historical accuracy of the film. One Twitter user tweeted: “Let’s be honest folk. It’s movie about an African tribe famous for selling slaves to Europeans that was made into a female empowerment story by two white women writers. You don’t have to be very “woke” to see the problem here. #BoycottWomanKing“.
But under the same #BoycottWomanKing hashtag, another user wrote: “Y’all want to boycott a movie that is literally ABOUT the thing you’re complaining about. The movie speaks on how EVERYONE (including African tribes) participated in the slave trade and its specific impact on Black women. It’s a Masterpiece! #TheWomanKing#BoycottWomanKing to this”.
Y’all want to boycott a movie that is literally ABOUT the thing you’re complaining about.
— Jazmin Truesdale, Aza Comics (@JazminTruesdale) September 16, 2022
Another user tweeted: “I’m not trusting any hashtag that tries to get a Black women-led movie to fail. I’ll see it for myself and if it’s bad or spins history in a negative way so be it. But Viola & John are going to get my movie dollars. Suck on that, bots & ops.”
However, Viola spoke up about the controversy in an interview with Variety and said: “Most of the film is fictionalised”. Her husband, Julius added: “We are now what we call ‘edu-tainment’. It’s history, but we have to take license. We have to entertain people.”
The Woman King trailer is phenomenal
The film trailer makes it clear that you can expect women to forefront the film with Black male supporting roles too. The film promises much action, but you can also expect the humanity and candid side of Black Women to shine through too. “This is a film where Black women are seen in all their glory”, says Viola per Sway In The Morning.
The Woman King is released in select cinemas on 4 October and nationwide on 7 October.