‘Color Purple’ struggles at the box office after a big Christmas opening

'Color Purple' struggles at the box office after a big Christmas opening


“The Color Purple”, a new musical version of Alice Walker’s historical novel, became an instant hit.

immersed in critical gleeThe film opened in theaters on Christmas Day and sold over $18 million in tickets, a record for the holidays. Audiences gave it an A grade in the CinemaScore exit poll. Oprah Winfrey, who produced the film with Steven Spielberg, celebrated on Instagram. “I am overwhelmed with gratitude,” she wroteHe added, “For all of you to buy tickets, wear purple and turn out in large numbers is making me excited.”

But the spark has turned into a shower.

“The Color Purple,” which cost Warner Bros. at least $90 million to make and $40 million to market, collected an estimated $4.8 million from 3,218 theaters in the United States and Canada over the weekend, according to comScore, which Compiles the box office. data. That was enough for seventh place, behind only George Clooney’s “The Boys in the Boat” — a period drama that also came out on Christmas Day — even though “The Boys in the Boat” had only 2,687 theaters.

What happened?

In Hollywood parlance, the film failed to transcend “special audiences”. To put it more bluntly, “The Color Purple,” which has been enthusiastically accepted by black moviegoers, needs more white, Hispanic and Asian ticket buyers to give it a chance. According to PostTrak, a service that provides demographic information to studios about ticket buyers, the film’s opening weekend audience was 65 percent black, 19 percent white, 8 percent Hispanic and about 5 percent Asian.

Warner Bros. hasn’t given up.

“I think the jury is going to be out for several weeks, as people talk to their friends about what films they’ve seen and enjoyed – what has impacted them and uplifted them – and the film continue to be honored by award groups,” he said. Jeff Goldstein, Warner’s president of domestic distribution.

“What we know about older audiences is that they don’t flock to theatres,” he said.

Overall, “The Color Purple” has now grossed nearly $55 million, with advance group sales contributing to the big Christmas Day result. (Theaters and studios split ticket sales roughly 50-50.) The film opens overseas on January 18.

In a promising sign for the film’s box office, more white and Hispanic moviegoers turned out in recent days. According to PostTrak data, the film’s second weekend demographic break was 47 percent black, 39 percent white, 10 percent Hispanic and less than 4 percent Asian.

“The Color Purple,” starring Fantasia Barrino, Taraji P. Henson, Danielle Brooks and Colman Domingo, also could benefit from awards, Mr. Goldstein said. The film’s two actresses, Ms. Barrino and Ms. Brooks, have been nominated for awards at Sunday’s Golden Globe Awards. (In what was seen as a snub, Globe voters did not nominate “The Color Purple” for best picture, musical or comedy.) Oscar nominations will be announced on January 23.

“The Color Purple” was always viewed as a question mark by box office analysts. Ms. Winfrey continues to attract huge attention — the world seemed to stop, at least for a few seconds, when she revealed in mid-December that she had started taking medication to control her weight. But she is not seen in the film.

Warner Bros. supported the film with an enthusiastic marketing campaign that emphasized uplifting images. The film itself opens with a spectacular production number in which at least 40 people dress in their Sunday best and dance while singing “Merry Noises”. The ending of the film is also quite encouraging.

But most of the stuff in between is tough. The central character, Celie, lives in poverty in rural Georgia in the early 1900s and must survive being repeatedly raped by the man she believes to be her father. He forces her to give up his newborn children and later marries her to a man who beats her severely and treats her as his domestic servant.

Some box office analysts wonder whether the story has become too old. Ms. Walker’s best-selling and Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, published in 1982, has already spawned one major film (Mr. Spielberg’s 1985 adaptation, which starred Whoopi Goldberg and the Oscar-nominated Ms. Winfrey) and two successful Broadway productions. Already happened. , Musicals can also be a tough sell, and Warner Bros. currently has two on the market. “Wonka,” starring singer Timothée Chalamet, was No. 1 over the weekend, collecting about $14.4 million domestically for a new total of $165 million ($466 worldwide).

The only new wide-release film, “Night Swim,” a low-budget horror film from Universal Pictures and Blumhouse, finished second, selling an estimated $12 million in tickets.





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