Zola: From Twitter Thread to Summer Blockbuster

A’Ziah “Zola” King tweeted nearly six years ago about her crazy weekend in Florida. It became a cultural phenomenon.

The 148-tweet story was “kind of long” and definitely “full of suspense.” Hollywood thought so, too. The indie movie adapted from her tweets premiered June 30 in more than 1000 movie theaters throughout the United States.

If you haven’t read the tweets that inspired the movie Zola, here’s a quick rundown:

Zola is a former stripper who working as a restaurant hostess. While working her shift, she befriends a customer who also happens to be a stripper. She gives the woman her phone number. The following day, the woman invites Zola on an impromptu strip dancing trip to Florida with her, her boyfriend and her roommate.

Taking this as an opportunity to make some money, Zola agrees to go with the strangers. The plans quickly evolve, and a simple weekend excursion becomes a weekend of manipulation, prostitution and murder.

What works:

The movie keeps the magic of #thestory as told by King, but writers Janicza Bravo and Jeremy O. Harris also add a richness to the characters through the dialogue and cinematography. In the original story, King’s perspective is the only one that we are totally in tune with and the other characters were less developed. Bravo and Harris keep Zola as the main voice in the story but do a dynamic job of writing dialogue that feels authentic to the characters in King’s tweets. In developing the characters, they also give visual prompts that clue audiences into the trustworthiness of the characters.

Their creative interpretation of the tweets satiate fans of the source material while also giving the film new life by fully embracing the campiness of social media. The camera clicks, the notification pings, and the likes popping up across the screen audibly and visually are often over-the-top and excessive–much like social media. The abrupt transitions from scene to scene also mimic the nature of Twitter storytelling in that audiences are often thrown into a scene and reoriented into the story. Additionally, Bravo utilizes visually stunning asides that are reflective of the frequent digressions in King’s tweets.

Rating: 5/5

This is by far the best movie to premiere this year. Janicza Bravo, Jeremy O. Harris and A’Ziah King produced a raunchy comedy with ever-rising stakes and bigger laughs. This film is ultimately a whole lot fun and doesn’t shy away from the dirty and grimy aspects of the story.

With the world continuing to reopen, this movie makes for a solid night out with the friends. You’re sure to be talking about it in the group chat for days.

Check out the trailer below for Zola below.


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