EXCLUSIVE: Hot off of co-directing Beyoncé’s Disney+ visual album feature Black Is King, Ghana-born filmmaker Blitz Bazawule is set to direct Warner Bros. musical film The Color Purple, based on the Tony-winning Broadway musical.
I hear that the feature’s producers Oprah Winfrey, Steven Spielberg, Scott Sanders, and Quincy Jones caught Bazawule’s movie The Burial Of Kojo on Netflix, and were wowed by his vibrant visual style.
“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 tells Deadline.
Bazawule is a composer and musician of four studio albums: Stereotype (2009), Native Sun (2011), Afropolitan Dreams (2014) and Diasporadical (2016), and his musical sensibility, and what he could bring to The Color Purple, also impressed the producers as well. Bazawule co-directed Black Is King with Beyoncé and Emmanuel Adjei, helming the South African shoot. Following his zoom call pitch with the producers, I hear Warners moved fast to sign Bazawule.
Marcus Gardley is writing the screenplay based on The Color Purple Broadway reimagining of Alice Walker’s 1982 novel. The story depicts the lives of African American families and relationships in early twentieth-century Georgia. The musical, featuring jazz, ragtime, gospel, blues and African rhythms, has a book by Marsha Norman with music by Brenda Russell, Allee Willis and Stephen Bray.
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EPs are Walker, Rebecca Walker, Kristie Macosko Krieger, Carla Gardini and Mara Jacobs.
The original Broadway musical debuted in 2005, scoring 11 Tony Award nominations in 2006 and winning for LaChanze’s role as Celie. It ran for 910 performances. A revival in 2015 scored four more Tony noms and won for Best Revival of a Musical and for Cynthia Erivo in her Broadway debut. The musical has also won Grammy and Emmy awards.
Spielberg, directed and produced the 11-time Oscar-nominated 1985 film, which Jones also produced. Winfrey, made her feature debut in the original movie and earned a Supporting Actress Oscar nom. Winfrey, Jones and Sanders also produced the Broadway musical.
Bazawule’s The Burial Of Kojo premiered at Urbanworld Film Festival where it won Best Narrative Feature (World Cinema). It also won the Grand Prize at the 2019 Luxor African Film Festival in Egypt. Bazawule is the founder of Africa Film Society, an organization focused on the preservation and distribution of classic African cinema. He is a Senior TED Fellow and recipient of the Vilcek Prize.
Bazawule is represented by CAA, M88 and Granderson Des Rochers.
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