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"The Color Purple" premieres with sold-out showings in Harlem

"The Color Purple" premieres with sold-out showings in Harlem
"The Color Purple" premieres with sold-out showings in Harlem 02:25

NEW YORK - Families often find themselves at movie theaters on Christmas Day, and this year "The Color Purple" drew out crowds in droves in Harlem.

At the AMC Magic Johnson Theaters, the nearly sold-out showings for the premiere showered the streets with a parade of purple. Dozens were decked out in the royal hue.

"My sister passed away about three years ago, and me and my sister was close like that," said Sallie McMillan, referencing the story's main characters.

"The first one I saw when I was a little girl and it changed my life," Nicole Williams said, standing next to her daughter, Forever. "So this new edition I had to be here the first day to share with my daughter."

The new movie flips the script of its 1985 film predecessor. While that version interpreted Alice Walker's original prose, filled with pain, this one is based on the 2005 Broadway musical, which reimagines the story from a more positive perspective, with characters empowered to rejoice.

"Nothing stacks up to the original, but it definitely was up there," said Antonia Santiago after seeing the first showing of the day. "On a 1 to 10, it was a 9.5." 

"The book leaves us in awe," noted W. Taft Harris, Jr. "The film adaptation leaves us with this great sense of aspiration. The stageplay leaves us in a place of good astonishment, right. This here was simply amazing."

This powerful tale of redemption is filled with full-circle moments for the cast, some of whom portrayed the same people in the Broadway play nearly two decades ago.

Actor Taraji P. Henson talks inspirations for her role in "The Color Purple" 07:44

Fantasia Barrino-Taylor credits co-star Taraji P. Henson for helping her celebrate and separate herself from her character Celie on set, something she admitted struggling to do on stage during a recent interview on CBS Mornings.

"Our amazing director, he gave Celie an imagination," Barrino-Taylor said. "She didn't have that on Broadway. So it left everybody trying to figure out how she got through everything. Then all of a sudden you hear, "I'm here," and you're happy. But you don't know how she processed to get there."

Fantasia Barrino Taylor explains why she took on the role of Celie in "The Color Purple" 08:07

Danielle Brooks also reprised her role of Sofia, who was hand-picked to walk in the footsteps of producer Oprah Winfrey.

"It felt literally like passing the baton, and I got to do that," Winfrey told CBS Mornings. "We both cried when she finished the scene, and I said it is officially done. You have taken it and made it yours."

The chemistry runs deep between Brooks and her on-screen husband Harpo, played by Corey Hawkins.

"I don't know if I was dreaming it up or my ancestors were dreaming it up, but Danielle Brooks and I were both at Julliard in singing class, in the hallways, just singing the music," Hawkins said on CBS Mornings. "Like it was a part of who we were."

Oprah talks casting Danielle Brooks in "The Color Purple' 10:20

The stars have all aligned to mark a new cultural moment in history.

"I saw the original back in 1985, and that was stupendous," said Yvonne Bacott, "and to see a different take on it now and the persons who are in it. I mean it's phenomenal. Who wouldn't want to see it?"

"The Color Purple" is playing now in a theater near you.

Have a story idea or tip in Harlem? Email Jessi by CLICKING HERE.

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