The Color Purple: Release Date, Cast, And More

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Alice Walker's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel "The Color Purple" was turned into an Oscar-nominated film from director Steven Spielberg back in 1985. Then it became a Tony-nominated musical in 2006, followed by a celebrated revival in 2015. Now the two adaptations are coming together as one with Warner Bros. Pictures and Amblin Entertainment turning the musical into a movie, and we've got everything you need to know right here.

The Color Purple Release Date and Where to Watch It

The film adaptation of "The Color Purple" musical has been slated for release on December 20, 2023 by Warner Bros. Pictures. Since this film is still over two years away from release, it's likely that we won't see this film getting a hybrid release in theaters and on HBO Max, but it will hit theaters exclusively on that date. Presumably, this movie will be a tentpole production for awards season and it will have at least a 45-day exclusive theatrical window before arriving on VOD or home video. 

What is The Color Purple?

"The Color Purple" is a musical adaptation of Alice Walker's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name. Here's a synopsis for the book, courtesy of Amazon:

The Color Purple depicts the lives of African American women in early twentieth-century rural Georgia. Separated as girls, sisters Celie and Nettie sustain their loyalty to and hope in each other across time, distance and silence. Through a series of letters spanning twenty years, first from Celie to God, then the sisters to each other despite the unknown, the novel draws readers into its rich and memorable portrayals of Celie, Nettie, Shug Avery and Sofia and their experience. The Color Purple broke the silence around domestic and sexual abuse, narrating the lives of women through their pain and struggle, companionship and growth, resilience and bravery.

The story about these four Black women has been a frequently challenged part of school curriculum around the nation for sexual explicitness, explicit language, violence, and homosexuality. But those elements only serve to make the story that much more harrowing and significant. That's why BBC News listed the book on its list of the 100 most influential novels.

The Broadway stage production based on the book incorporates jazz, ragtime, gospel, blues, and African music to tell the story that has become a culture touchstone since its publication in 1982. It adds a whole new dimension to the narrative and allows for a showcase of authentically Black music in a Black story about Black characters. The musical earned 11 Tony nominations and ran for 910 performances after its debut in 2005, and the revival in 2015 was again nominated for several Tony Awards and praised by critics. Here's hoping the movie can garner just as much acclaim.

The Color Purple Cast

As of now, the lead roles in "The Color Purple" have not yet been cast. In the Broadway revival from 2015, Celie, Shug Avery, Nettie, and Sofia were portrayed by Cynthia Erivo (seen above), Jennifer Hudson, Danielle Brooks, and Joaquina Kalukango respectively. We haven't heard about any of them reprising their roles for the movie, but it may not be out of the realm of possibility. However, Cynthia Erivo is slated to take one of the lead roles in the big screen adaptation of the musical "Wicked," so her involvement seems less likely.

The only cast members announced for "The Color Purple" movie musical are Corey Hawkins ("Straight Outta Compton," "In the Heights") as Harpo, one of the key male roles, and recording artist H.E.R. will make her acting debut as Mary Agnes, AKA Squeak, who goes from a juke joint waitress to an aspiring singer.

The Color Purple Director, Writer, and More

"The Color Purple" will be directed by Blitz Bazawule, a filmmaker from Ghana who made waves directing Beyoncé's Disney+ visual album feature "Black is King." Bazawule also garnered acclaim for his film "The Burial of Kojo," which won Best Narrative Feature (World Cinema) when it premiered at the Urbanworld Film Festival and also earned the Grand Prize at the 2019 Luxor African Film Festival in Egypt. Bazawule also has extensive music experience having composed and recorded four studio albums

As for the screenplay, that will be in the hands of Marcus Gardley, who previously wrote for shows like "The Chi" and "Z: The Beginning of Everything" and has written episodes of "Foundation," "Maid," "Tales of the City," and "NOS4A2."

Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg, Scott Sanders, and Quincy Jones will all be producing the big screen adaptation of the musical. Author Alice Walker will be acting as executive producer alongside Rebecca Walker, Kristie Macosko Krieger, Carla Gardini and Mara Jacobs.

The Color Purple Trailer and Synopsis

There's no trailer for the film adaptation of "The Color Purple" musical, but you can watch a preview of musical moments from the stage production above. Here's the official synopsis for the revival of the musical from when it was on Broadway:

"The Color Purple" is an inspiring family saga that tells the unforgettable story of a woman who, through love, finds the strength to triumph over adversity and discover her unique voice in the world. This musical adaptation of Alice Walker's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel (and the popular 1985 Steven Spielberg film) spotlights Celie, a downtrodden young woman whose personal awakening over the course of 40 years forms the arc of this epic story. With a joyous score featuring jazz, ragtime, gospel, African music and blues, "The Color Purple" is a story of hope, a testament to the healing power of love and a celebration of life.