‘The Color Purple’ smashes Christmas box office

The onscreen musical adaptation of the beloved Alice Walker novel had the second-biggest Christmas Day opening of all time.

“The Color Purple” took over the holiday box office this year. The latest, highly-anticipated adaptation of the beloved Alice Walker novel hit the big screen on Christmas Day, taking in $18 million from 3,152 North American theaters. 

Per Variety, the musical movie outperformed expectations, making it the largest Christmas Day film opening since 2009 and the second-biggest opening on the holiday of all time. As the outlet reported, it seems the Warner Bros. production is the first musical to resonate at the box office in quite a while, outperforming 2021 critical darlings “West Side Story” and “In the Heights,” which took in $10.5 million and $11 million respectively on their opening weekends.

(Left to right) Adetinpo Thomas, Deon Cole, Brenda Russell, Blitz Bazawule, Danielle Brooks, Alice Walker, Alicia Keys, Ciara and Fantasia Barrino-Taylor, Colman Domingo, Gabriella Wilson aka H.E.R., Taraji P. Henson, Phylicia Pearl Mpasi and David Alan Grier attend the Dec. 6 world premiere of Warner Bros.’ “The Color Purple” at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images)

“The Color Purple,” directed by filmmaker Blitz Bazawule, received positive reviews from critics, earning an 87% on Rotten Tomatoes. The movie stars Fantasia Barrino as Celie, Taraji P. Henson as Shug Avery, Danielle Brooks as Sofia, Colman Domingo as Mister and Corey Hawkins as Harpo. The first film adaptation of Walker’s novel since Steven Spielberg’s 1985 classic starring Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey, the remake takes the source material, as well as songs, from the Broadway adaptation, which dazzled audiences from 2005 to 2008 and again from 2015 to 2017, the latter staging winning two Tony Awards in 2016.

Bazawule told the Los Angeles Times earlier this year about his approach to the filming, specifically diving into Celie’s imagination in ways the original did not.

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“Celie had a real imagination, and perhaps that’s how she was able to deal with all the hurt she was going through,” said the Ghanaian rapper, writer-director and visual artist. “I felt that if I could really lean into that — and be proximate to her joy, her pain, her isolation — it would be a strong and worthwhile contribution to not only the canon of ‘The Color Purple’ but also the medium of musicals.”

“The Color Purple” is in movie theaters now.

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