Oprah and Steven Spielberg announced that they’d be working together to create “The Color Purple” movie musical in an exclusive interview with Collider.
“The Color Purple” has turned into a widely successful play and musical, based on the book written by Alice Walker written in 1982. Oprah produced the Broadway musical version, which received much praise and critical acclaim, earning 11 Tony nominations. The original show ran from 2005-2008 but was brought back several years ago, when it won two more Tonys.
As Warner Brothers bought the license to turn the story into a movie musical, they couldn’t have chosen better people to create it. Oprah’s unique connection to the book and original musical will hopefully keep the harrowing tales of Celie and her sister Nettie in tact. The text features two sisters growing up in Georgia during the beginning of the 20th century, when segregation and racism devastated Black communities across the US. The original book won a Pulitzer and had since been included in nearly every classroom curriculum across America. Walker became the first African-American to win a Pulitzer in 1983.
“The Color Purple was a seminal moment in my life. I read the book when it came out,” Oprah told the Collider in 2014. “[…] I got the book and read it, in one day. And then, I went back, the next day, and bought every copy they had. I would hand the book out to everybody that I knew. I passed it around to everybody in the office. I became obsessed with the book. I moved to Chicago, and I would literally walk around with a backpack filled with books because I didn’t have a book club, and I would just start a conversation with people and say, ‘Have you read The Color Purple?’ And if they hadn’t, I’d say, ‘Here, have a copy, right here.’ I was literally obsessed with it.”
That obsession led Oprah to produce the musical, featuring songs by Steven Sondheim. The musical was a significant change for Broadway. We can credit a shift in audiences thanks to The Color Purple and Oprah Winfrey. For the first time, nearly 50 percent of the audience was Black, when previously it was recorded in the single digits. The musical went on tour, so more communities could see it. In the end, it pulled in around $350 million, which is a lot by Broadway standards.
Speilberg directed the first Color Purple movie in 1985, which featured a young Whoopi Goldberg. The film received several Oscar nominations, although it didn’t win any. With Spielberg’s experience and technological savvy, the two should be able to adapt “The Color Purple” movie musical for the big screen.
The cast for “The Color Purple” movie musical hasn’t been announced yet, but it is expected that this will be a huge project seeking A-listers.