‘The Color Purple’: The First Trailer for the Big Screen Musical Remake Is Already Generating Oscar Buzz
Fantasia Barrino, seen here in 2018, stars as Celie Harris Johnson in the new musical film adaptation of 'The Color Purple.' Barrino played the role during the original Broadway run of the musical as well. Photo: Maury Phillips/Getty Images for BET
The first trailer for the 2023 musical remake of The Color Purple has arrived, offering a glimpse at the latest incarnation of the classic story as it heads back to the big screen and garners very early Oscar buzz.
Based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning 1982 novel by Alice Walker, the film, rooted in the American south in the early 20th century, stars Fantasia Barrino and Ciara as African-American sisters Celie and Nettie, whose bond endures years of abuse and separation. Phylicia Mpasi and Halle Bailey play the younger versions of the sisters, while the film also stars Taraji P. Henson as blues singer Shug Avery, Danielle Brooks as the strong-willed Sofia, Corey Hawkins as her husband Harpo and Colman Domingo as Albert “Mister” Johnson, Celie’s abusive husband.
This film comes after the original, Oscar-nominated 1985 film adaptation and a Broadway musical that launched in 2005, followed by a Tony-winning revival in 2015. Barrino, a former American Idol winner, portrayed Celie in the original Broadway musical while Brooks played her film character, Sofia, in the revival.
The new trailer for The Color Purple already has some critics and fans leaning into big award season expectations.
“While the trailer only gives us the smallest taste of Fantasia’s vocals, Taraji P. Henson’s spin on Shug Avery, and Danielle Brooks’ Sofia, that’s really all you need to get a sense of how electric they’re all going to be,” a story on The Verge exclaimed, adding the prediction that the film is “going to be one of the stronger contenders” during awards season.
Indiewire, meanwhile, noted that the original 1985 film The Color Purple landed 11 Oscar nominations and that “Warner Bros. is surely eyeing a serious awards contender here” with the 2023 remake.
A story for Revolt referenced Barrino’s performance of the Color Purple musical tune “I’m Here” at the 2007 Tony Awards and pointed to the fact that, years later, after hearing her sing part of the song in the trailer, “the internet is already crowning the North Carolina native a 2024 Oscar winner for her heartfelt role.”
Vulture added that the film’s Dec. 25th release date makes “Fantasia’s voice the very best Christmas present of them all.”
The new movie musical is directed by Blitz Bazawule and features an all-star roster of producers including Steven Spielberg (who directed the 1985 film), Oprah Winfrey (who made her big screen debut in the 1985 film and helped produce the Broadway productions), Quincy Jones (who produced and did the score for the 1985 film) and Scott Sanders (who conceived of the stage production and produced the original Broadway run of The Color Purple as well as the 2015 revival).
When announcing the trailer on Monday, Winfrey called the big screen musical a “reimagined, bold new take on The Color Purple almost 40 years later.”
The original The Color Purple earned 11 Oscar nominations — including for Whoopi Goldberg as Best Actress in her breakout role as Celie — but failed to win any statuettes, tying the 1977 film The Turning Point for most Oscar nominations without a win.
Clearly, many believe the 2023 version could rectify that unfortunate dubious record.