The Color Purple (2023 film)

The Color Purple is a 2023 American musical period drama film directed by Blitz Bazawule. Marcus Gardley's screenplay is based on the stage musical of the same name, which in turn is based on the 1982 novel of the same name by Alice Walker. It is the second film adaptation of the novel, following the 1985 film directed by Steven Spielberg and produced by Spielberg and Quincy Jones. Spielberg and Jones return as producers for the 2023 film, along with its Broadway producers Scott Sanders and Oprah Winfrey, the latter of whom also starred in the 1985 film.

The Color Purple
Theatrical release poster
Directed byBlitz Bazawule
Screenplay byMarcus Gardley
Based on
Produced by
Starring
CinematographyDan Laustsen
Edited byJon Poll
Music byKris Bowers
Production
companies
Distributed byWarner Bros. Pictures
Release dates
  • November 20, 2023 (2023-11-20) (London)
  • December 25, 2023 (2023-12-25) (United States)
Running time
141 minutes[2]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$90–100 million[3][4]
Box office$67.5 million[5][6]

The film stars Taraji P. Henson, Danielle Brooks, Colman Domingo, Corey Hawkins, H.E.R., Halle Bailey, Phylicia Pearl Mpasi, and Fantasia Barrino in her film debut. Brooks and Barrino reprise their roles from the productions of the stage musical. It tells the story of Celie, an African American woman dealing with the hardships of living with an abusive husband and living in the American South during the early 1900s.

The Color Purple premiered in London on November 20, 2023, and was released in the United States on December 25, 2023, by Warner Bros. Pictures. Although it received positive reviews from critics, it underperformed at the box office grossing $67.5 million against a budget of $90-100 million. Danielle Brooks was lauded for her performance, receiving nominations for the Academy Award, BAFTA Award, Golden Globe Award, and Screen Actors Guild Award for Best Supporting Actress.

The film however, did score 16 nominations at the 55th NAACP Image Awards, winning 11, including Outstanding Motion Picture, Outstanding Ensemble Cast in a Motion Picture, Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture (Fantasia Barrino), Outstanding Supporting Actress (Taraji P. Henson) and Outstanding Supporting Actor (Colman Domingo). The film also breaks a historic new record of the overall annual awards ceremony since its inception in the 1960s as the motion picture with the most nomination and wins, surpassing Black Panther, The Best Man, and Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey which all tied for ten nominations.

Plot edit

In 1909 Georgia, teenager Celie Harris lives with her sister Nettie and abusive father Alfonso. Her mother died after which Alfonso started raping Celie; this causes her to become pregnant twice. When Celie gives birth to her second child, Alfonso takes the child away as he had done with the first. He then forces her to marry a local farmer and father of three, Albert "Mister" Johnson.

When Alfonso tries to molest Nettie, she moves into Mister's farmhouse until he exiles her when she rebuffs his advances. She promises to write to Celie every day before leaving. By 1917, Celie is still married to Mister, while his son Harpo marries fierce, defiant Sofia. Harpo tries to build a house, but later turns it into a juke joint. Celie befriends Sofia, but she leaves Harpo when he tries to beat her.

One day, independent jazz singer Shug Avery comes to town to perform at the joint. Harpo has been seeing another woman named Mary "Squeak" Agnes. When he tries to dance with Sofia, Mary Agnes cuts in and ends up starting a fight that trashes the joint. Celie begs Shug to stay with her, but Shug decides to bring her instead. When they return to Mister's home, Shug finds and reveals to Celie a letter in the mailbox addressed to Celie from Nettie, revealing that Nettie has been living in Africa.

Back in Georgia in 1930, Sofia is called out by the mayor's wife to be her maid, but she refuses and gets involved in a physical fight, resulting in her arrest. She is released after six years and ends up having to work for the mayor's wife anyway, sinking into a deep depression that seemingly takes away all of her fierceness.

On Easter Sunday in 1943, Celie confronts Mister in front of his father and their family and leaves him along with Shug. Mary Agnes goes with them to Memphis, inspiring Sofia out of her stupor. Celie vows to Mister that until he does right by her, everything in his life will crumble.

In 1945, when Alfonso dies, it is revealed by his wife that he was not Celie or Nettie's biological father, and through their mother, both sisters own the grocery store and the home they were brought up in. Celie starts up a pants clothing shop with help from Shug, Sofia, and Mary Agnes. Meanwhile, Mister has become a miserable drunk. He vows to do right by Celie and later visits her shop and buys a pair of pants. While she is hesitant to see him, she agrees to maintain a friendship with him. Mister plots to reunite Celie and Nettie.

In 1947, Celie reunites with Nettie, along with Adam and Olivia, Celie's children. She joins hands with them as she and everyone else thanks God for how far they have come.

Cast edit

Additionally, Whoopi Goldberg makes a cameo appearance as a midwife who helps young Celie give birth. Goldberg previously portrayed Celie in the original film.[7]

Production edit

Development edit

In November 2018, it was reported that a film adaptation of the musical was in development at Warner Bros. Pictures and Amblin Entertainment, the same companies that made the 1985 film adaptation of the novel, with Steven Spielberg, Quincy Jones, Scott Sanders, and Oprah Winfrey all signed on to produce.[8] In August 2020, it was announced that Marcus Gardley will pen the screenplay and Black Is King's Blitz Bazawule will direct.[9] Winfrey praised the selection of Bazawule as director, after she and the producers saw his work on The Burial of Kojo, saying that they "were all blown away by Blitz's unique vision as a director and look forward to seeing how he brings the next evolution of this beloved story to life." It was also announced that Alice Walker, Rebecca Walker, Kristie Macosko Krieger, Carla Gardini, and Mara Jacobs will executive produce the film.[9] Siedah Garrett joined Brenda Russell and Stephen Bray (in place of the late Allee Willis) in contributing new material to the film's score.[10]

Casting edit

In August 2021, Corey Hawkins was cast in a lead role.[11] That same month, H.E.R. was cast in her feature acting debut.[12] In February 2022, Taraji P. Henson, Fantasia Barrino, Danielle Brooks, Colman Domingo, and Halle Bailey joined the cast, with Barrino and Brooks reprising their roles from productions of the stage musical.[13][14][15] In March 2022, Louis Gossett Jr., David Alan Grier, Tamela J. Mann, Phylicia Mpasi, Deon Cole, Stephen Hill, and Ciara joined the cast.[16][17] In April 2022, Aunjanue Ellis, Elizabeth Marvel and Jon Batiste joined the cast.[18][19][20]

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter Oprah Winfrey reported that the film had difficulty getting the cast that Bazawule wanted, as there were other productions with African American artists in progress.[21] However, Winfrey explained that "if you were making this film for $30 or $40 million, the interest in the cast would be very different." but some producers put pressure on the names of the cast when the film hit $90–100 million in production, asking to include Beyoncé or Rihanna in the cast.[21][22][23]

Filming edit

Filming began in March 2022, with production taking place at Driftwood Beach on Jekyll Island from March 16 to March 25.[24] Filming officially wrapped in July 2022.

Allegations of unfair working conditions edit

In a 2024 interview with The New York Times, Taraji P. Henson spoke out against unfair pay and working conditions while working on the film.[25] Henson said the studio forced her to audition despite being the director's first choice. She said, "At this point I’m a Golden Globe-winner and Academy Award–nominated...So I went in there with a chip on my shoulder because I was like, ‘You will never second-guess me again".[26][27][28] Henson also alleged the production forced the cast to drive in production cars to set. She disagreed with the decision, citing safety and liability concerns, and alleged that she asked, "'Can I get a driver or security to take me?' I’m not asking for the moon. They’re like, 'Well, if we do it for you, we got to do it for everybody.' Well, do it for everybody! It’s stuff like that, stuff I shouldn’t have to fight for."[29][30] Fellow actor Danielle Brooks revealed the actors did not initially get their own dressing rooms when they showed up for rehearsals, nor was food provided to them at that time.[31] The cast reached out to Oprah Winfrey, one of the film's producers who eventually resolved the issue.[32][33][34]

Producer Oprah Winfrey said of the matter, "I’m not in charge of the budget," adding" "whenever I heard there was an issue or there was a problem, there was a problem with a cars or the problem with their food, I would step in and do whatever I could to make it right. And I believe that [Taraji] would even vouch for that and say that is true.”[35] In 2024, Henson told Today, that she hopes the film's negative press surrounding the working conditions doesn't distract from the film. She said, "I hope they can focus back onto this film, because right now, to me, it feels like what I said is now becoming louder than this beautiful film". She also defended Oprah saying, "What you’re not gonna do is pit two Black women together".[36]

Differences between stage and screen versions edit

On December 1, 2023, BroadwayWorld revealed that the film will not be a direct copy-and-paste adaptation of the stage musical, with elements from the novel and the 1985 film also being featured, including "Miss Celie’s Blues (Sister)," the song sung by the character of Shug Avery in the 1985 film. 13 songs from the musical were cut from the film, including "Somebody Gonna Love You," "Our Prayer," "Big Dog," "Dear God - Sofia," "Brown Betty", "Uh-Oh," "African Homeland," "Celie's Curse," "Any Little Thing," "What About Love (Reprise)," "That Fine Mister," "A Tree Named Sofia," and "All We Got to Say," while a song cut from the stage production, titled "She Be Mine," was reinstated for this film.[37][38]

Music edit

Soundtrack edit

On November 27, the soundtrack's musicians and singers were revealed to be executive produced by Quincy Jones, Larry Jackson and Scott Sanders via Warner Bros. records, WaterTower Music and Gamma.[39][40][41] The soundtrack features songs by Alicia Keys, Usher, Mary J. Blige, Megan Thee Stallion, Jennifer Hudson, Tamela Mann, Mörda, Brenden Praise, Keyshia Cole, Ludmilla, Jorja Smith, Coco Jones, Mary Mary, Missy Elliott and the film's actors Halle Bailey, H.E.R, Fantasia and Ciara.[42][43] Compositions from the Broadway production will be included, such as "She Be Mine" and "Shug Avery Comin' to Town", along with new, original music for the film.[44]

American record production and songwriting duo Nova Wav, composed by Denisia Andrews and Brittany Coney were involved in the project by the director Bazawule.[45] The duo wrote and composed original song "Keep It Movin'", with Morten Ristorp and Halle Bailey, and it is performed by Bailey and Phylicia Pearl Mpasi.[46] The song was published on November 11, 2023. On November 27, 2023, "Lifeline" was published as the second original song from the film, written and performed by Alicia Keys.[47]

The soundtrack album was released on December 15, 2023, by WaterTower Music with the title The Color Purple (Music From and Inspired By).[41] A second official soundtrack album showcasing the film's score, which was composed by Kris Bowers, was released alongside the film itself on December 25, 2023.[48]

Musical numbers edit

  • "Huckleberry Pie" - Nettie and young Celie
  • "Mysterious Ways" - First Lady, Rev. Samuel Avery, Nettie and Ensemble
  • "She Be Mine" - Young Celie and Ensemble
  • "Keep It Movin'" - Nettie and young Celie
  • "Workin" - Harpo and Ensemble
  • "Hell No!" - Sofia and Ensemble
  • "Shug Avery" - Celie, Mister and Ensemble
  • "Dear God – Shug" - Celie
  • "Push Da Button" - Shug
  • "What About Love?" - Celie and Shug
  • "Agoo" - Ensemble
  • "Hell No! (Reprise)" - Celie
  • "Miss Celie's Blues (Sister)" - Shug
  • "Miss Celie's Pants" - Celie, Sofia, Shug, Squeak and Ensemble
  • "I'm Here" - Celie
  • "Maybe God Is Tryin' To Tell You Somethin" - Shug and Rev. Samuel Avery
  • "The Color Purple" - Celie, Sofia, Shug, older Nettie, Harpo, Mister and Ensemble

Release edit

The film had its world premiere in London on November 20, 2023, and was released theatrically on December 25, 2023.[49] It was originally scheduled to be released on December 20, 2023, but later switched release dates with Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom.[50][51]

Home media edit

The Color Purple was released for digital platforms on January 16, 2024, and followed a Blu-ray, DVD, and 4K UHD release on March 12, 2024.[52] The film was available to stream on Max beginning February 16, 2024.[53]

Reception edit

Box office edit

The Color Purple grossed $60.6 million in the United States and Canada, and $6.9 million in other territories, for a worldwide gross of $67.5 million.[5][6] Variety reported that the film lost the studio $40 million, when factoring together all expenses and revenues.[54]

In the United States and Canada, The Color Purple was released alongside Ferrari and The Boys in the Boat, and was projected to gross $8–10 million from 3,203 theaters on its first day.[55] It exceeded expectations and grossed $18.2 million, finishing first at the box office for the day.[3][56] Its opening day was the second-highest domestic opening for a film on Christmas Day of all-time (behind Sherlock Holmes' $24.6 million in 2009), and the highest-grossing domestic opening day for a musical post-COVID 19 pandemic.[57] The following weekend the film made $11.7 million, finishing fourth at the box office and totaling $44 million over its first week of release.[58] In its second weekend, the film made $4.8 million, finishing seventh.[59]

Critical response edit

On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, 82% of 250 critics' reviews are positive, with an average rating of 7.3/10. The website's consensus reads: "Building on the legacy of the previous film adaptation while incorporating elements of the stage musical, The Color Purple is a crowd-pleasing testament to resilience in the face of trauma."[60] Metacritic, which uses a weighted average, assigned the film a score of 72 out of 100, based on 49 critics, indicating "generally favorable" reviews.[61] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale, while PostTrak reported 92% of filmgoers gave it a positive score.[3] Multiple publications listed it as one of the best films of 2023, including the New York Post,[62] Deadline Hollywood,[63] and People.[64]

Pete Hammond, reviewing the film for Deadline Hollywood, reports that although "Spielberg’s version still resonates", the direction of Bazawule "brings a unique vision that makes this version stand on its own as an authentic and valuable addition to The Color Purple legacy", appreciating the photography of Dan Laustsen, which "gives a vision of the early 20th century South rarely seen in films depicting the period, particularly Black lives".[65] Katie Walsh of Los Angeles Times described the director's approach as "modern, while paying homage to the traditions of Broadway musicals", while the cast "takes your breath away", praising Barrino for her "stunning performance as Celie, holding the emotional center over decades" and Brooks, who "steals the whole movie, [...] She brings fire, humor and grit to a character who undergoes a dramatic, tragic arc".[66]

Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian wrote that although "the plot strands are to finally tie up with startling serendipity", with "warmth and vehemence in this movie, especially in the big ensemble numbers", the film "is less successful in the solo scenes and the evocation of loneliness and suppressed despair", appreciating "an absolute powerhouse trio of female leads here, supercharging the action with their fierce charisma" by Barrino, Henson and Brooks' performances.[67] Peter Debruge of Variety pointed out that the film made "a satisfying improvement" from the original film adaptation, adding "expressionistic flourishes". Even if "some of these tricks work better than others", the journalist wrote that "all work to expand the experience, making The Color Purple feel even more monumental than it did in Spielberg’s hands".[68]

Accolades edit

With her nomination for Best Supporting Actress, Danielle Brooks became the second actor nominated for playing the role of Sofia, after Oprah Winfrey's Oscar-nominated performance from the 1985 film. The Color Purple also led with the most nominations at the 2024 NAACP Image Awards, scoring 16 nominations, winning 11, including Outstanding Motion Picture, Outstanding Lead Actress (Barrino) and Outstanding Supporting Actress/Actor (Henson/Domingo).

Award Date of ceremony Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
AARP Movies for Grownups Awards January 17, 2024 Best Picture/Best Movie for Grownups The Color Purple Nominated [69]
Best Supporting Actor Colman Domingo Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Taraji P. Henson Nominated
Best Ensemble The cast of The Color Purple[70] Won
Academy Awards March 10, 2024 Best Supporting Actress Danielle Brooks Nominated [71]
African-American Film Critics Association Awards January 15, 2024 Top 10 Films of the Year The Color Purple 3rd place [72]
Best Musical Won
Best Supporting Actress Danielle Brooks Won
Best Ensemble The cast of The Color Purple[70] Won
Best Music Kris Bowers Won
Alliance of Women Film Journalists January 3, 2024 Best Actress in a Supporting Role Danielle Brooks Nominated [73]
Artios Awards March 7, 2024 Outstanding Achievement in Casting – Big Budget Feature (Drama) Bernard Telsey, Tiffany Little Canfield, Destiny Lilly Nominated [74]
Astra Film and Creative Awards January 6, 2024 Best Picture The Color Purple Nominated [75]
Best Actress Fantasia Barrino Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Danielle Brooks Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Colman Domingo Nominated
Best Cast Ensemble The cast of The Color Purple[70] Won
February 26, 2024 Best Hair and Makeup Carol Rasheed, Saisha Beecham,
Lawrence Davis, Tym Wallace
Nominated
Best Costume Design Francine Jamison-Tanchuck Nominated
Best Casting Bernard Telsey, Destiny Lilly
Tiffany Little Canfield
Nominated
Austin Film Critics Association Awards January 10, 2024 Best Supporting Actress Danielle Brooks Nominated [76]
BAFTA Film Awards February 18, 2024 Best Actress in a Leading Role Fantasia Barrino Nominated [77]
Best Actress in a Supporting Role Danielle Brooks Nominated
Black Reel Awards January 16, 2024 Outstanding Film The Color Purple Nominated [78]
Outstanding Director Blitz Bazawule Nominated
Outstanding Lead Performance Fantasia Barrino Nominated
Outstanding Supporting Performance Danielle Brooks Won
Colman Domingo Nominated
Taraji P. Henson Nominated
Outstanding Ensemble Tiffany Little Canfield, Destiny Lilly and Bernard Telsey Won
Outstanding Emerging Director Blitz Bazawule Nominated
Outstanding Breakthrough Performance Fantasia Barrino Won
Danielle Brooks Nominated
Phylicia Pearl Mpasi Nominated
Outstanding First Screenplay Marcus Gradley Nominated
Outstanding Editing Jon Poll Nominated
Outstanding Production Design Paul D. Austerberry Won
Outstanding Costume Design Francine Jamison-Tanchuck Won
Outstanding Hairstyling and Makeup Lawrence Davis and Carol Rasheed Won
Outstanding Score Kris Bowers Won
Outstanding Song "Keep It Movin'"[b] Won
Outstanding Soundtrack The Color Purple Won
Black Film Critics Circle December 20, 2023 Top Ten Films The Color Purple 3rd Place [79]
Best Supporting Actress Danielle Brooks Won
Celebration of Cinema and Television December 4, 2023 Ensemble Award – Film The cast of The Color Purple[70] Won [80]
Critics' Choice Movie Awards January 14, 2024 Best Picture The Color Purple Nominated [81]
Best Supporting Actress Danielle Brooks Nominated
Best Acting Ensemble The cast of The Color Purple[70] Nominated
Best Hair and Makeup The Color Purple Nominated
Best Costume Design Francine Jamison-Tanchuck Nominated
Dallas–Fort Worth Film Critics Association December 18, 2023 Best Supporting Actress Danielle Brooks 2nd place [82]
Denver Film Critics Society January 12, 2024 Best Supporting Performance by an Actor, Female Nominated [83]
Best Original Song "Keep It Moving" Nominated
Georgia Film Critics Association Awards January 5, 2024 Best Supporting Actress Danielle Brooks Nominated [84]
[85]
Best Ensemble The cast of The Color Purple[70] Nominated
Oglethorpe Award for Excellence in Georgia Cinema Blitz Bazawule, Marcus Gardley Nominated
GLAAD Media Awards March 14, 2024 Outstanding Film – Wide Release The Color Purple Nominated [86]
Gold Derby Film Awards February, 2024 Best Supporting Actress Danielle Brooks Nominated [87]
Golden Globe Awards January 7, 2024 Best Actress – Motion Picture Comedy or Musical Fantasia Barrino Nominated [88]
Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture Danielle Brooks Nominated
Heartland Film 2023 Truly Moving Picture Award The Color Purple Won [89]
Hollywood Music in Media Awards November 15, 2023 Original Song — Feature Film "Keep It Movin'"[b] Nominated [90]
[91]
Song — Onscreen Performance (Film) "Keep It Movin'"[c] Nominated
Houston Film Critics Society Awards January 22, 2024 Best Picture The Color Purple Nominated [92]
Best Actress Fantasia Barrino Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Danielle Brooks Nominated
Best Original Song "Keep It Movin'"[b] Nominated
Las Vegas Film Critics Society December 13, 2023 Best Costumes The Color Purple Nominated [93]
Best Ensemble Nominated
Make-Up Artists and Hair Stylists Guild February 18, 2024 Best Period Hair Styling and/or Character Hair Styling Andrea Mona Bowman
Lawrence Davis, Tym Wallace
Nominated [94]
NAACP Image Awards March 16, 2024 Outstanding Motion Picture The Color Purple Won [95]
Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture Fantasia Barrino Won
Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture Danielle Brooks Nominated
Halle Bailey Nominated
Taraji P. Henson Won
Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture Colman Domingo Won
Corey Hawkins Nominated
Outstanding Breakthrough Performance in a Motion Picture Phylicia Pearl Mpasi Won
Outstanding Ensemble Cast in a Motion Picture The cast of The Color Purple[70] Won
Outstanding Breakthrough Creative (Motion Picture) Blitz Bazawule Won
Outstanding Writing in a Motion Picture Marcus Gardley Nominated
Outstanding Original Score for TV/Film Kris Bowers Nominated
Outstanding Soundtrack/Compilation Album The Color Purple (2023 Original Motion Picture Soundtrack) Won
Outstanding Costume Design Francine Jamison–Tanchuck Won
Outstanding Make-up Carol Rasheed, Saisha Beecham, Ngozi Olandu Young, Manny Davila, Milene Melendez Won
Outstanding Hairstyling Lawrence Davis, Tym Wallace, Andrea Mona Bowen, Angela Renae Dyson, Jorge Benitez Villalobos Won
North Texas Film Critics Association December 18, 2023 Best Newcomer Halle Bailey Nominated [96]
Palm Springs International Film Festival January 4, 2024 Spotlight Award - Actress Danielle Brooks Won [97]
People's Choice Awards February 18, 2024 The Drama Movie of the Year The Color Purple Nominated [98]
The Drama Movie Star of the Year Fantasia Barrino Nominated
The Movie Performance of the Year Danielle Brooks Nominated
Satellite Awards February 17, 2024 Best Actress in Motion Picture, Comedy or Musical Fantasia Barrino Nominated [99]
Best Costume Design Francine Jamison-Tanchuck Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Awards February 24, 2024 Outstanding Cast in a Motion Picture The cast of The Color Purple[70] Nominated [100]
Outstanding Supporting Actress Danielle Brooks Nominated
Seattle Film Critics Society Awards January 8, 2024 Best Actress in a Supporting Role Danielle Brooks Nominated [101]
The Queerties February 28, 2023 Next Big Thing The Color Purple Nominated [102]
Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Awards December 10, 2023 Best Supporting Actress Danielle Brooks Nominated [103]
Best Original Score Kris Bowers Nominated
Women Film Critics Circle Awards December 18, 2023 Best Movie About Women The Color Purple Nominated [104]
Best Supporting Actress Danielle Brooks Nominated
Adrianne Shelly Award The Color Purple Won
Josephine Baker Award Runner-up

Notes edit

  1. ^ Credited onscreen as Gabriella Wilson "H.E.R."
  2. ^ a b c (Halle Bailey, Phylicia Pearl Mpasi, Denisia Andrews, Brittany Coney and Morten Ristorp)
  3. ^ (Halle Bailey and Phylicia Pearl Mpasi)

References edit

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