After serving as one of the directors of Beyoncé’s dazzling Disney+ visual album movie Black is King, director Blitz Bazawule has landed another big project. The Ghana-born filmmaker has been tapped by Warner Bros. to direct the feature film adaptation of The Color Purple musical, which won the Tony Award for best musical revival in 2016.
The Color Purple is making its way back to the big screen as a movie musical, and it now has one of the most promising rising directors set to helm it. On the heels of co-directing Beyoncé’s acclaimed visual album feature Black Is King, Deadline reports that Blitz Bazawule is set to direct The Color Purple movie musical for Warner Bros. Based on the Tony-winning Broadway musical, the feature film will be produced by Oprah Winfrey, Scott Sanders, Quincy Jones, and Steven Spielberg (who directed the 1985 non-musical film), all of whom were impressed by Bazawule’s stunning feature debut The Burial of Kojo, which is streaming on Netflix.
“We were all blown away by Blitz’s unique vision as a director and look forward to seeing how he brings the next evolution of this beloved story to life,” Winfrey told Deadline.
In his brief filmmaking career, Bazawule has earned the backing of some of the most powerful Black figures in Hollywood. The Burial of Kojo was picked up by Ava DuVernay’s indie banner ARRAY, serving the surreal, lyrical drama to a large audience on the Netflix platform. Then Bazawule, who started his career as a composer and hip-hop artist with four studio albums under his belt, got tapped by Beyoncé to co-direct Black is King with Beyoncé and Emmanuel Adjei, helming the South African shoot. All of this caught Warner Bros.’ eye, and the studio reportedly moved fast to sign Bazawule. Here’s a trailer for The Burial of Kojo:
The Broadway show adapted Alice Walker’s 1982 novel about the lives of African-American families in early 20th century Georgia, weaving in a soundtrack that featured jazz, ragtime, gospel, blues and African rhythms. The book for the original Broadway musical, which debuted in 2005 and earned 11 Tony nominations and one win for actress LaChanze’s role as Celie, was written by Marsha Norman with music by Brenda Russell, Allee Willis, and Stephen Bray. The 2015 revival scored four more Tony nominations and won two — one for Best Revival, and one for star Cynthia Erivo in her Broadway debut.
The Color Purple movie musical will be penned by rising playwright Marcus Gardley. The feature film will be executive produced by Alice Walker, Rebecca Walker, Kristie Macosko Krieger, Carla Gardini, and Mara Jacobs, but there’s no word yet if Erivo, whose star is rising in Hollywood, will reprise her stage role in the movie version.
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