Steven Spielberg is producing a movie adaptation of The Color Purple Broadway stage musical, having previously directed a big screen adaptation of Alice Walker's original Color Purple novel back in 1985. Spielberg's film was nominated for eleven Academy Awards total (though it didn't actually win any), including a Best Actress nod for star Whoopi Goldberg, a Best Supporting Actress nod for Oprah Winfrey (in her screen debut), and Best Picture nods for Spielberg and his fellow co-producers, including Kathleen Kennedy and Quincy Jones.
The Color Purple explores the lives of black women in the American South in the early 1990s and particularly focuses on the experience of a woman named Celie, as she struggles to truly find and accept her identity over the course of some forty years, all while suffering various forms of abuse (physical, emotional, and sexual) from the different men in her life. Walker won the Pulitzer Prize for her novel (which was published in 1982) and the story was eventually adapted into a Tony award-winning Broadway musical in 2005, with music and lyrics by Stephen Bray, Brenda Russell, and Alee Willis.
According to Collider, Spielberg, Winfrey, and Jones are producing a movie adaptation of The Color Purple stage musical along with Scott Sanders, who produced the original Broadway show (and was instrumental in getting Walker's permission to produce the stage musical in the first place). The project is very much in the early stages of development right now and doesn't even have a writer attached. However, it sounds like Spielberg is only planning to produce the film and has no intention of directing it himself.
Cynthia Erivo, who starred in last month's Bad Times at the El Royale and will return in this month's Widows, earned a Tony award for her performance as Celie in the 2015 Broadway revival of The Color Purple musical. It's certainly possible that Erivo will end up reprising her role for the big screen take on the stage show, similar to how Anthony Ramos is starring in the upcoming In the Heights movie musical, after having played the original stage show's lead (a role originated by co-creator Lin-Manuel Miranda). Erivo is currently starring as Harriet Tubman in Kasi Lemmons' biopic Harriet (which recently began production), so it might be awhile before we get an update on her future plans, either way.
While Spielberg's The Color Purple is still loved by many today, the director has expressed mixed feelings about the film and indicated that he wishes it had been adapted by a black female filmmaker - a storyteller who would've brought a more authentic outlook to the table, in other words. Producing The Color Purple movie musical may allow Spielberg to fulfill that wish (in a sense), depending on who he and his fellow producers ultimately hired to call the shots on the project. Beyond that, Spielberg seems to have socially-conscious Broadway musicals on the mind of late, considering that he's also actively casting and preparing to make a new big screen version of West Side Story next year.
We will bring you more details on The Color Purple as they become available.