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The Color Purple Release Date, Cast, Trailer, Plot And More Details

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When it comes to stories that stand the test of time, they don't get much more enduring than "The Color Purple." This coming-of-age drama was first brought to life by Alice Walker, who won a Pulitzer Prize for her landmark work. Walker's novel was then adapted into a 1985 movie directed by Steven Spielberg, which earned an impressive 11 Academy Awards nominations. If all that wasn't enough, the story was eventually adapted as a musical for the stage, with the Tony-winning play having two successful runs on Broadway.

However, "The Color Purple's" journey is far from over. In fact, there's a brand new version of the movie in the works. The film has been in development since 2018, and now, the finished product is almost here, ready to bring an inspiring musical to the big screen. The movie boasts a ton of A-list talent both in front of and behind the camera, and if you're wondering when we can see the latest adaptation of this beloved tale, here's everything you need to know about "The Color Purple."

When will The Color Purple be released?

First things first — when is "The Color Purple" coming to theaters? Originally, the musical was set to hit the big screen on December 20, 2023, but distributor Warner Bros. decided to switch the period piece with its latest DC offering, "Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom." So the two movies were swapped around, with "Aquaman" getting the December 20 slot and "The Color Purple" getting Jason Momoa's original landing pad of December 25. Granted, "Aquaman" has since been kicked back to December 22, but as of this moment, "The Color Purple" still remains on that holiday release date. That means the film will most likely be a big player during the 2024 awards seasons, and it also means that if you're looking for a film to watch on Christmas, this musical will be ready to liberate and lift your soul.

What's the plot of The Color Purple?

Based on the 2005 Broadway musical, "The Color Purple" will focus on the life and eventual empowerment of Celie, whose abusive father forces into marriage with another abusive man at a young age. Though life seems to have little in store for her besides servitude and sadness, she meets a number of important people over the course of decades, such as showgirl Shug Avery and the incredibly confident Sofia, who help give her a new perspective. After several dramatic turns of events, Celie must learn to stand up for herself and hopefully reconnect with her long-lost sister.

There are, of course, some differences between the various retellings of the story, so this new version may also at least partially follow its own path. However, since the tale is so iconic and multiple people who've been working on previous versions are on board for this new one, it's likely that whatever differences the upcoming musical will have to the previous iterations of "The Color Purple" won't be too dramatic. 

Who is starring in The Color Purple?

The cast of "The Color Purple" is absolutely stacked with talent, so let's start off with the lead. The part of young Celie will be portrayed by acting newcomer Phylicia Pearl Mpasi, while older Celie will be played by singer Fantasia, who's known for winning "American Idol" Season 3 and performing acclaimed songs such as "Bittersweet" and "When I See U." Perhaps most importantly, Fantasia actually played Celie in the Broadway version of "The Color Purple," so she knows exactly what it takes to bring the character to life.

Similarly, Celie's little sister Nettie will be portrayed by two separate actresses, with Halle Bailey of "The Little Mermaid" portraying younger Nettie and singer Ciara (known for top five singles such as "1, 2 Step" and "Goodies") playing older Nettie. The abusive Mister will be brought to life by Colman Domingo — an uber-talented actor who's been in everything, from "Euphoria" and "Fear the Walking Dead" to "Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" and "Transformers: Rise of the Beasts."

Taraji P. Henson of "Empire" and "Hidden Figures" will portray Shug Avery, the singer who turns Celie's life upside down, and we'll also see big-deal names such as Danielle Brooks of "Peacemaker" as Sofia, H.E.R. of "I Can't Breathe" and "Fight for You" as Squeak, and Corey Hawkins of "The Walking Dead" as Harpo. Rounding out the cast, you can expect to see Aunjanue Ellis-Taylor ("King Richard"), Louis Gossett Jr. ("An Officer and a Gentleman"), David Alan Grier ("Joe Pickett"), Deon Cole ("Black-ish"), Tamela Mann ("A Madea Homecoming"), Stephen Hill ("Magnum P.I."), Elizabeth Marvel ("Manifest"), and Grammy winner Jon Batiste.

Who is producing The Color Purple?

Aside from Jason Blum or Kevin Feige, most moviegoers probably couldn't name a single producer. However, that won't be the case with "The Color Purple," as the producing line-up is full of heavy hitters. 

First up, there's Oprah Winfrey, who actually played Sofia in the 1985 film and earned an Academy Award nomination for her powerful performance. She's joined here by the GOAT Steven Spielberg, who directed the original cinematic adaptation of "The Color Purple," which earned an Oscar nod for best picture. Additionally, there's musical legend Quincy Jones, who was the producing brains behind Michael Jackson's "Off the Wall" and "Thriller" albums. Lastly, there's Scott Sanders, who oversaw the Broadway version of "The Color Purple," along with Winfrey and Jones.

In short, the film has a ton of talented producers who are all intimately involved with the material, meaning the upcoming film is definitely a passion project that's coming from a place of love. Speaking about the importance of the film, Winfrey told the press, "As long there is a need for self-discovery, self-empowerment, as long as there is a need for victory in someone's life, as long as there is a need for people to know what it feels like to be loved up and to be made full and hold to somebody else's love, there will be a need for 'The Color Purple.'"

Who is directing The Color Purple?

With that killer's row of producers, who will be directing "The Color Purple?" Those duties have gone to Blitz Bazawule, who's earned nothing but praise from the likes of Oprah Winfrey. As she explained to Deadline, "We 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."

Bazawule broke onto the filmmaking scene with the Ghanaian drama "The Burial of Kojo," but he's best known for helming Beyoncé's critically acclaimed visual album "Black Is King." Additionally, Bazawule is big into music himself, having released four studio albums. When speaking at a Q&A panel about his plans for "The Color Purple," the filmmaker said the he "wanted to create some of the most epic, boldest visual motifs," so he decided to use a magical realist style to create some of the film's most jaw-dropping moments inside Celie's "internal headspace."

The director also explained that while "The Color Purple" is full of hardship and tragedy, he also wants it to feel uplifting and victorious. As Bazawule put it, "You know, I feel like often when we think about specifically African-American life, there's a tendency to kind of narrow it down to the struggles, but nobody gets here without the duality of joy and pain. And for me, I knew that it was going to be a triumphant journey right through struggle."

Is there a trailer for The Color Purple?

The trailer for "The Color Purple" packs an emotional wallop, promising a movie that will break your heart before putting the pieces back together. We start off witnessing the close relationship between young Celie and her sister, Nettie. However, their bond is severely tested when the sadistic Mister marries Celie and drives Nettie off. But despite the distance between them, the trailer lets us know their relationship can't be broken. As the sisters tell each other, "You and me, us have one heart."

From there, we watch as Celie tries to navigate her lonely, abusive life — a life that twists and turns as new people enter her journey and give her strength. We watch as Shug Avery puts on a show-stopping nightclub number and see Sofia lay down the law with some abusive men. We watch some jaw-dropping dance routines, and the entire trailer is set to Fantasia's powerful rendition of "I'm Here," a song that's sure to bring the house down in theaters across the world. With a trailer this good, we can't wait to see the actual story of Celie's self-empowerment when it hits theaters on December 25.

Where to watch the original Color Purple

Before the musical version hits theater screens, you might want to check out the original adaptation of "The Color Purple." Released in 1985, the film stars Whoopi Goldberg as Celie, and it boasts a who's who of talented actors, such as Danny Glover, Oprah Winfrey, and Laurence Fishburne. With Steven Spielberg at the helm, the movie earned 11 Oscar nominations — including ones for Goldberg, Winfrey, and Spielberg — and was later named of the all-time great films by legendary critic Roger Ebert. If you want to check out this more traditional take on Alice Walker's novel, you can stream "The Color Purple" on Paramount+, or you can rent it on sites like Amazon Video, Apple TV, Google Play, Vudu, and YouTube.