What Happened with Netflix’s ‘Origin’ Ava DuVernay Movie?

ava duvernay origin movie

Picture: ARRAY Now

After a long development process, filming wrapped on Ava DuVernay’s upcoming movie Origin in early 2023 but the film won’t be coming to Netflix. Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning book by Isabel Wilkerson. Here’s everything you need to know so far.

The project was first revealed in October 2020, with Netflix and Deadline breaking the news of the title, which at that point was called Caste. Netflix executive Tendo Nagenda greenlit the project and was spearheading it. Nagenda eventually departed Netflix in August 2022.

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While we don’t have specifics on the details, it looks like, in the last couple of years, the movie was dropped from Netflix’s roster before production got underway.

That became clear and public knowledge in early 2023, with numerous casting reports suggesting the movie was “previously attached to Netflix” and instead had been self-funded and was planned to be released in another manner.

Deadline outlines the process in an interview with the film’s director at the Venice Film Festival, “This film has taken an unconventional path from being a Netflix project, you taking it back, making it yourself with no studio, and now selling it at Venice.”

Neon, the studio behind Palm Springs, Parasite, and All the Beauty and the Bloodshed, has since been announced to be the buyer and will be the main distributor for the film and with plans to distribute the movie globally by late 2023.

Ava DuVernay wrote, produced, and directed the movie, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival in September 2023. The prolific filmmaker has produced several Netflix Original projects for Netflix already, including 13th, When They See Us, and most recently, Colin in Black and White.

In addition to her Netflix projects, DuVernay’s ARRAY Releasing debuts its new films on Netflix day and date with their limited theatrical releases. You can watch over a dozen titles from the distributor on Netflix in select regions at any time.


What is Origin about?

The movie will be an adaptation based on Isabel Wilkerson’s book, Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents. The New York Times bestselling author is also behind The Warmth of Our Suns, a project Netflix is also developing with Shonda Rhimes.

Per GoodReads, here’s a rundown of Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents and what themes you can expect from the upcoming Netflix movie:

Through a multiple-story structure, Caste examines the unspoken system that has shaped America and chronicles how our lives today are defined by a hierarchy of human divisions dating back generations. Beyond race, class, or other factors, there is a powerful caste system that influences people’s lives and behavior and the nation’s fate.

Linking the caste systems of America, India, and Nazi Germany, Isabel Wilkerson explores eight pillars that underlie caste systems across civilizations, including divine will, bloodlines, stigma, and more. Using riveting stories about people—including Martin Luther King, Jr., baseball’s Satchel Paige, a single father and his toddler son, Wilkerson herself, and many others—she shows the ways that the insidious undertow of caste is experienced every day. She documents how the Nazis studied the racial systems in America to plan their out-cast of the Jews; she discusses why the cruel logic of caste requires that there be a bottom rung for those in the middle to measure themselves against; she writes about the surprising health costs of caste, in depression and life expectancy, and the effects of this hierarchy on our culture and politics. Finally, she points forward to ways America can move beyond the artificial and destructive separations of human divisions, toward hope in our common humanity.

caste book cover

Book cover for Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents

Origin was initially scheduled to begin filming on November 30th, 2022. However, a separate source reported that principal photography did not start until December 12th, 2022. Filming was initially scheduled to end by February 16th, 2023. Filming, however, wrapped in early March 2023 with Ava DuVernay posting on March 6th confirming the wrap, saying:

“That’s a wrap! On behalf of my producing partner Paul Garnes and everyone at ARRAY Filmworks, we extend deep gratitude to this terrific cast – powerfully led by Aunjanue Ellis. And deep gratitude to our stellar crew members in Delhi, Berlin and Savannah. I’ll be forever thankful. And feel forever changed. Onward for all of us. xo”

Makeup artist Ashunta Sheriff-Kendricks also posted around the time of wrap, stating what a herculean task filming was and the scale of the project, saying:

“Words cannot express the journey our fearless leader @ava took us on. It would span 3 continents, involve bustling busy streets on #NewDelhli, wonders of the world, rehashing a shameful past for a country who is trying to move forward and heal, it entailed multiple climates, multiple languages, multiple international HMUC teams. This was beyond Epic and the memories will live in my mind forever.”

Filming will be taking place across three continents with confirmed filming locations including:


Who are the cast members of Caste?

caste netflix cast grid

Cast grid for Netflix’s Ava DuVernay movie, Caste

Throughout early 2023, the cast for Caste was slowly announced via the Hollywood trades. Below, we’ve put together the full list of who’s attached so far:

  • Aunjanue Ellis (King Richard)
  • Niecy Nash (Dahmer)
  • Jon Bernthal (The Punisher)
  • Vera Farmiga (Up in the Air)
  • Nick Offerman (The Last of Us, Parks & Recreation)
  • Jasmine Cephas Jones (Blindspotting)
  • Connie Nielsen (Gladiator)
  • Audra McDonald (Beauty and the Beast)
  • Myles Frost (Family Reunion)
  • Blair Underwood (Deep Impact)
  • Finn Wittrock (American Horror Story)
  • Victoria Pedretti (The Haunting of Bly Manor)
  • Isha Blaaker (Red Riding Hoods)
  • Donna Mills (Knots Landing)
  • Sarah Navratil (The Nest)
  • Gisssette Valentin (First Kill)
  • Jason Ligon (Atlanta)

Are you looking forward to the new movie coming from Ava DuVernay? Do you wish it was coming to Netflix? Let us know in the comments below.



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