‘The Color Purple’ brings in biggest Christmas box office earnings since 2009

Fantasia Barrino-Taylor at 2023 premiere of 'The Color Purple'
AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

“The Color Purple,” a new musical film adaptation of the 1982 Alice Walker novel, got a big Christmas gift when it opened in theaters on Dec. 25 — the biggest Christmas box office opening since 2009.

The new film is the latest adaptation of a powerful story that started with a novel, moved to the big screen in the 1980s in a movie that earned critical acclaim, and then moved on to a Broadway stage. The latest version of “The Color Purple” took in $18.15 million on its Christmas Day debut in movie theaters, according to Deadline.

With its big box office showing, “The Color Purple” had the best Christmas Day movie opening since 2009’s “Sherlock Holmes,” which starred Robert Downey Jr. and took in $24.6 million. The movie also surpassed two other movie musicals that had a Christmas premiere in recent years: 2012′ “Les Miserables” ($18.11 million) and 2014’s “Into the Woods” ($15 million).

“The Color Purple” outperformed this year’s holiday competition, including “Aquaman 2” ($10.6 million) and “Wonka” ($10.3 million) — but all three are Warner Bros. films, making for a very merry Christmas for the studio.

Here are the top five Christmas Day 2023 box office winners from Box Office Mojo:

  1. “The Color Purple”: $18.15 million
  2. “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom”: $10.6 million
  3. “Wonka”: $10.3 million
  4. “The Boys in the Boat”: $5.7 million
  5. “Migration”: $5.3 million

“The Color Purple” is a musical retelling of Alice Walker’s 1982 book about a Black woman named Celie who lives in rural Georgia in the early 20th century and faces abuse from her father as a young girl, and then again at the hands of her husband. Her life changes as she witnesses powerful Black women around her take control of their own lives and share their confidence in Celie.

The film stars Fantasia Barrino-Taylor, Danielle Brooks, Taraji P. Henson, Colman Domingo, Corey Hawkins, H.E.R., Ciara and Halle Bailey.

Another movie adaptation of “The Color Purple” was released in 1985. That film, directed by Steven Spielberg, starred Whoopi Goldberg and Oprah Winfrey. It was nominated for 11 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, but won none.

Winfrey and Spielberg took on co-producing roles in the new film and appeared together at the Los Angeles movie premiere on Dec. 7.

Oprah Winfrey, left, and Steven Spielberg, producers of "The Color Purple," pose together at the premiere of the film at the Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2023, in Los Angeles.
AP Photo/Chris Pizzello

“This is bigger than anything we could dream,” Winfrey said during a lighting ceremony at the Empire State Building earlier this month, Oprah Daily reports. “We’re all so excited to be here to celebrate and to have our movie, the reimagined ‘Color Purple,’ as an offering to the world. We want you to know that it is celebratory, it’s about hope, it’s about rejoicing, it’s about empowerment, it’s about joy.”

Entertainment, Movies & TV, News

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About the Author
Marie Rossiter
Marie is a freelance writer and content creator with more than 20 years of experience in journalism. She lives in southwest Ohio with her husband and is almost a full-fledged empty nest mom of two daughters. She loves music, reading, word games, and Walt Disney World. Visit Scripps News to see more of Marie's work.

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