Amid Debate Over Film Pay Disparity, ‘The Color Purple’ Triumphs at the Box Office, Taking In $18 Million on Christmas Day

On Christmas Day, “The Color Purple,” a musical film adaptation of Alice Walker’s novel adapted into an iconic film and hit Broadway musical, took the box office by storm, surpassing expectations with an impressive $18 million haul from 3,152 North American theaters. This not only marked the largest Christmas Day opening for a film since 2009 but also secured its place as the second-biggest Christmas Day opening in cinema history.

The Color Purple
Fantasia Barrino in ‘The Color Purple’ Courtesy of Warner Bros.

The film was in the No. 1 spot, followed by “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” and “Wonka,” Variety reported.

This latest adaptation, directed by Blitz Bazawule, executive produced by Oprah Winfrey and backed by Warner Bros., has outshone its 1985 predecessors in a single day’s performance.

The latest “The Color Purple,” which tells thestory of Celie, a Black woman living in Georgia in the early 1900s, includes Fantasia Barrino (as Celie), Taraji P. Henson, Danielle Brooks, Colman Domingo, and Halle Bailey. Barrino also starred in the Broadway version.

Success Not Without Drama

Henson, who plays a key role in the film, revealed that she almost turned down the opportunity due to pay disparity issues.

“I almost had to walk away from ‘The Color Purple,’” Henson said in a Dec. 19 live interview for the SAG-AFTRA Foundation. “Yes, ma’am. … If I don’t take a stand, how am I making it easy for Fantasia [Barrino] and Danielle [Brooks] and Halle [Bailey] and Phylicia [Pearl Mpasi]? Why am I doing this, if it’s all just for me?”

Henson’s complaint sparked a debate over fair compensation in the entertainment industry, particularly for Black women. It also caused many to question if Winfrey was behind the “underpayment” and Henson was forced to post a message on social media that Winfrey was anything but supportive.

Will the Box Office Boom Continue?

“The Color Purple” faces high expectations due to its estimated $100 million budget, but, according to industry observers, the film is expected to surpass the $200 million mark at the box office. It needs to make $200 million to be considered a success, according to Screen Rant. Time will tell if the Christmas Day sales continue.

The First Take

The first “The Color Purple” film adaptation of Walker’s novel was directed by Steven Spielberg with involvement of Quincy Jones. Winfrey was also cast in the original — in a role she claimed she was only paid $35,000 but still jumped at the opportunity, as Finurah previously reported.

The film was a commercial success, grossing $98 million at the box office. The production budget was $15 million, Collider reported.

What people are saying

One thought on “Amid Debate Over Film Pay Disparity, ‘The Color Purple’ Triumphs at the Box Office, Taking In $18 Million on Christmas Day

  1. Gwendolyn Vinson says:

    Can’t wait to view this historical remake! We’ve lost count of how many times we’ve watched the original.
    As my daughter is an aspiring actress and I also aspire to once again grace the big screen we pray the disparity in pay is resolved.

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