‘The Color Purple’ rakes in biggest Christmas Box Office debut in over a decade—beating ‘Aquaman’ and ‘Wonka’


The latest rendition of “The Color Purple” surpassed box office expectations with an $18 million domestic gross on Monday, making it the biggest Christmas Day opening for a film in over a decade and clocking in as the second highest-grossing movie ever released on the holiday.

Phylicia Pearl Mpasi and Halle Bailey in “The Color Purple.”

Warner Bros. Pictures

Key Facts

“The Color Purple” musical adaptation starring Fantasia Barrino, Halle Bailey and Taraji P. Henson opened on Christmas Day to an $18.15 million gross in North America, Deadline reported, surpassing expectations that put its gross between $8 million and $13 million—and outperforming “Wonka” and “Aquaman 2” in Christmas sales, after the films opened on Dec. 15 and 22, respectively.

The film was the second-largest Christmas Day opening of all time, according to Variety, falling only to the 2009 Sherlock Holmes adaptation starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law that opened to $24.6 million (the equivalent of about $35 million today).

“The Color Purple” joins other successful Christmas Day musicals like “Les Misérables,” which opened to $18.11 million on Christmas in 2012, and “Into the Woods,” which grossed $15 million on its holiday opening in 2014.

“Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom” was in second place at the box office on Christmas Day with $10.6 million and “Wonka” brought in $10.4 million for third place on the holiday, according to Deadline—all three top films were distributed by Warner Bros.

Other Christmas Day releases included “The Boys in the Boat” starring Callum Turner and Joel Edgerton ($5.7 million) and Adam Driver’s “Ferrari” ($2.8 million).

Key Background

The newest “The Color Purple” film is the latest in a line of stage and screen adaptations of Alice Walker’s 1982 book, which tells the story of Celie, a black girl living in rural Georgia, and her life with an abusive father, teenage pregnancy and abusive marriage. It was first adopted in 1985 by Steven Spielberg, and the movie—starring Whoopi Goldberg, Oprah Winfrey and Margaret Avery—was nominated for 11 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Actress and two Best Supporting Actress noms. A musical version of the story ran on Broadway from 2005 to 2008 (and earned 11 Tony Award nominations in its first year) and a revival ran from 2015 to 2017. The 2023 film is an adaptation of the musical that has been well received by viewers—it has a critics’ score of 89% and an audience score of 94% on Rotten Tomatoes.


“Aquaman” has fallen far short of expectations and become the latest superhero film to bomb at the box office. The movie opened to $28 million and ended Christmas weekend with $38.3 million total, under its $40 million projection and well below the $67.8 million debut of the first “Aquaman” installment in 2018. The film joins other major DC Studios films to disappoint at the box office, including “The Flash,” “Shazam! Fury of the Gods,” and “Blue Beetle.”

Screenshot 2023-12-26 at 1.22.48 PM

Jason Momoa in “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom.”

Warner Bros. Pictures

Surprising Facts

“The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes” was the biggest winner of the holidays, according to Box Office Mojo, which defines the season as running from Nov. 3 to Jan. 4. The “Hunger Games” film, which debuted on Nov. 17, has so far grossed $153.3 million domestically. “Trolls Band Together,” which was also released Nov. 17, has a domestic gross of $93.5 million and “Wonka” (Dec. 15) has grossed $85.5 million so far.

Big Number

$8.58 billion. That’s the total domestic box office gross for 2023 as of Dec. 26, according to Box Office Mojo, falling short of the $9 billion some analysts had hoped for.

This post originally appeared on Forbes.com

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