The Color Purple is a cinematic smash – and you'll be able to stream it really soon

The Color Purple
(Image credit: Warner Bros)

The Color Purple has been the hit of the holidays: it massively outperformed industry expectations with the largest Christmas Day opening for a film since 2009. It's the second-biggest Christmas Day opening of all time, bringing in $18 million from 3,152 North American theaters. That puts it comfortably ahead of two big blockbusters, Aquaman and The Lost Kingdom and Wonka.

The cinematic success is all the more impressive when you consider that this version of The Color Purple is a musical, a genre that tends to do less well than others. But a stream of rave reviews have propelled the film to the very top of the charts – and it's likely to stay there through the holiday season before moving to streaming in early 2024.

What's so great about The Color Purple and when can you stream it?

Based on Alice Walker's 1982 novel of the same name, The Color Purple may sound like an odd story for a feel-good movie: it's a story about an abused woman separated from her sister and children. But as the BBC explains, the film "leans into the hope and triumph of its heroine, Celie" and blends "the styles of Broadway musicals, Hollywood studio movies and music videos, with a mix of gospel, pop, blues and ballads, all of that coming together smoothly in one exuberant film." It's "a joy to watch."

Writing in The Guardian, Peter Bradshaw says that the new film is an easier watch than its predecessor. "This heartfelt movie-musical of The Color Purple sugars the pill and softens the blow, planing down the original’s barbed and knotty surfaces, taking away some of the shock of violence and tragedy and tilting the experience more towards female solidarity and triumph over adversity." Thanks to "an absolute powerhouse of female leads", "stirring musical numbers" and "sugar rush moments" it delivers "warmth and vehemence".

Vulture's Bilge Ebiri describes it as a "push-pull of darkness and hope", and while there's "a certain staginess to some of its darkest moments" it's a big movie with big numbers designed to be sung to and sung by a big audience. "it feels as much like a trip to church as it is a trip to the theater."

The Color Purple is in US cinemas now and launches globally on 18 January. Max hasn't announced its streaming date yet but early 2024 is likely.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.