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Georgia-Lensed “The Color Purple” Snags Second-Biggest Christmas Day Opening Ever

February 20, 2024

Georgia Department of Economic Development
We Speak Business Blog
Posted January 2, 2024

The latest film adaptation of Alice Walker’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, “The Color Purple” smashed box office records with its Christmas Day opening, earning $18 million in North America – the biggest December 25 opening in 14 years.

The book, adapted into a hit movie in 1985 followed by an adaptation into a Broadway musical in 2005, has longstanding Georgia ties. Not only is the author Georgia native Alice Walker, but the story is set in Georgia, so it is particularly fitting that producers chose the Peach State to shoot the motion picture.

Filmmakers chose locations across the state to enhance the visuals needed to tell the story. Stone Mountain Park’s quarry exhibit, Starrsville Plantation in Covington, a picturesque covered bridge in Woodbury, and a dirt road in Marble Hill all served to advance the desired effects. Macon, Savannah, Richmond Hill, Palmetto, Grantville, Senoia, Whitesburg, Midway, Atlanta, and even Jekyll Island’s popular Driftwood Beach all played host to scenes from the beloved classic.

“The Color Purple” by the numbers  

So far, the musical film has earned two Golden Globe nominations and is creating Oscar buzz. With solid reviews from critics, it has received a 94% audience score on Rotten Tomatoes. On its opening day alone, the movie exceeded the entire opening weekends of every stage-to-screen musical adaptation that has premiered in the last few years.

The film’s success is a win for Georgia, too. Just as “The Color Purple” main character Celie’s journey has an impact on the hearts and minds of moviegoers, the film had big an impact on Georgia.

Film prep began in October 2021, and wrapped a year later in October 2022. The production also clocked 69 days for reshoots, ending in March 2023. During that time, spending reached over $73 million and more than 2,300 Georgians were hired. 

Over the course of the project, 12,594 hotel nights racked up, contributing local and state taxes that help the bottom line. Georgia hires traveled statewide to work on the project, renting rooms at two hotels in Atlanta, two in Brunswick, one in Fairburn, four in Jekyll Island, five in Macon, two in Richmond Hill, and one in Saint Simons.

With so many filming locations, communities across the state felt the impact of the film industry with “The Color Purple” production. Georgia’s $4.1 billion film industry is robust, and box office successes like “The Color Purple” are further proof of Georgia’s winning combination of encouraging state partners, a plentiful workforce, a variety of filming locations, a growing stage footprint, and ample support services.

“These are the kind of film stories that we love – ones where the projects shoot all over the state and everybody feels the positive impacts that the film industry brings with it,” says Georgia Film Office Deputy Commissioner Lee Thomas.

Communities feel local impact

Downtown Macon welcomed film crews in April 2022, with Third Street transformed with 1920s décor.

Lauren Bone, owner of Macon Bagels, told 13WMAZ that the shop was closed to the public during the shoot so that vintage 1920s cars could drive around, and the businesses even catered breakfast to the set. “They basically paid us to close for the day,” Bone said.

Crews also constructed a temporary filling station in Dunlap Park, and spent time filming at the Douglass and Capitol theatres.

Visit Macon Vice President Aaron Buzza told 13WMAZ that productions benefit the city economically.

“When you have productions here, you have their crew here, they are in hotels, going out to eat, shopping. They run out of plywood and go to hardware stores, so there’s an opportunity for the community to see an economic impact,” Buzza said.

During a December screening of the film in Atlanta, Georgia Screen Entertainment Coalition Executive Director Kelsey Moore said that the film and television industry is “unequivocally valuable for Georgians all across our state.”

“’The Color Purple’ is a perfect example of the benefits productions bring to our state,” Moore said. “It created high-paying jobs, supported businesses big and small, and generated economic activity from Atlanta to Savannah, and from Macon out to Jekyll Island.”

Want to keep track of the of the work the state is doing to support film? View the Georgia Film Office’s active list of “What’s filming in Georgia” and follow us on Facebook.

Visit exploregeorgia.org/film for information on Georgia film locations and tours, release dates for new productions, and to plan your trip.

Lights, Camera, Action in Georgia: Check out what stars from some of the buzziest productions have to say about being Georgia-lensed