Oprah Winfrey Claims ‘Serious’ Movies are Dying Because of Taylor Swift and Rihanna: “It’s hard to sit in a room and pitch a story” (H)

Oprah Winfrey expressed concern about the potential of narratives about colored people in the current Hollywood landscape.

Oprah Winfrey Claims ‘Serious’ Movies are Dying Because of Taylor Swift and Rihanna: “It’s hard to sit in a room and pitch a story”

Oprah Winfrey has recently turned producer for the modern rendition of The Color Purple. While she served as the producer of the film, she played a supporting role in the 1985 version of the film which was directed by Steven Spielberg. She was even nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress at the time for her performance in the film.

Oprah Winfrey as Sofia in 1985's The Color Purple

Oprah Winfrey as Sofia in 1985’s The Color Purple

Despite the positive reviews, the film struggled at the box office and is poised to become a flop. This has concerned Winfrey about the potential of another project including people of color. She recently spoke about the challenges of putting out such projects without a big name.

Oprah Winfrey Expresses Concern About The Potential of ‘Serious Films’

The commercial failure of The Color Purple has Oprah Winfrey concerned

The commercial failure of The Color Purple has Oprah Winfrey concerned 2023’s The Color Purple was a triumph for everyone who wanted to witness a modern re-telling of Alice Walker’s novel.

The film was a beautifully realized and emotionally satisfying adaptation, just like the 1985 version and Oprah Winfrey returned as producer for the film. Winfrey wants to adapt another book but there’s a significant problem against it.

The Color Purple is struggling at the box office, which has Winfrey concerned about studios being interested in backing up another such project. Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Winfrey opened up about the challenge of putting up films about colored people without a pre-existing brand or big names like Rihanna or Taylor Swift backing up the project.

She said, “I think that everybody is so afraid and controlled by what they feel is going to work. There is a great loss in people understanding the true power of storytelling that has brought us through eras in Hollywood where you could tell a story like The English Patient and you could tell a story like the original Color Purple and audiences would respond. And now if you don’t have a brand, already marketable brand behind it, it’s hard to sit in a room and pitch a story.

Because unless you’re saying, ‘I’m bringing Rihanna or Beyoncé or Taylor or one of the people who have 200 million followers, people are like, ‘What’s the hook?’ … So I think that that is true for certainly telling stories about people of color. And I think it’s also true for everybody who’s trying to do some serious filmmaking about all stories. It’s challenging.”

Winfrey plans to adapt Abraham Verghese’s book The Covenant of Water, but the challenges she has addressed have left her in doubt about whether she’ll be successful in pitching to the studios. The commercial failure of The Color Purple also adds to her overall concern for the same.

Oprah Winfrey Didn’t Want to Cameo in 2023’s The Color Purple

Whoopi Goldberg made a cameo appearance in the 2023's the Color Purple

Whoopi Goldberg made a cameo appearance in the 2023’s The Color Purple

Oprah Winfrey played Sofia in Steven Spielberg’s 1985 adaptation of The Color Purple. When the 2023 version of the novel was being made, she declined to make a cameo in the film. She told The Hollywood Reporter that audiences would be distracted in seeing two Sofias in the film, especially in the church scene when the character gets married (Danielle Brooks plays Sofia in the 2023 version).

She also expressed that shooting at the time when COVID was at its peak immediately put her off the film. She said, “[A cameo] would’ve been good in the church scene, but I thought it would also be distracting when Sofia is getting married that if the old original Sofia was just one of the people in the church. And then they were shooting that in the middle of Georgia when COVID was [spreading] like, ‘OK, well I ain’t sitting in that church all day anyway.’”

Interestingly, Whoopi Goldberg who played Celie in the 1985 version made a cameo in the newest adaptation, playing a midwife who helps Fantasia Barrino’s Celie give birth. The film was received very positively by both critics and audiences upon release.

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