“He risked too much for the one thing that meant everything… his music,“ rumbled late voiceover master Don LaFontaine in the teaser for the film. “Prince, the story… the struggle… the movie… Purple Rain.”
Purple Rain is the feature film and acting debut of music icon Prince, co-starring Apollonia Kotero, Morris Day, Jerome Benton, Olga Karlatos and Clarence Williams III. The film directed by Albert Magnoli, and produced by Robert Cavallo, Stephen Fargnoli and Joseph Ruffalo (Prince’s management team), is the semi autobiographical account of musicians rise to fame.
Prince develops ideas for the story prior to and during the “1999 Triple Threat” Tour” (circa 1982 – early 1983). He enlists the help of veteran television and film writer William Blinn (“Eight Is Enough”, “Roots”) and director Magnoli to craft his ideas into the final script. Filmed on a modest budget of only $7 million, it is shot on location in Minneapolis and Los Angeles, CA between November – December 1983.
Released through Warner Bros, the film opens on 917 screens across the US. “Purple Rain” tops the box office chart in its first weekend of release, taking in $7,766,201 (knocking “Ghostbusters” from the number one spot), going on to gross more than $68 million domestically during its original theatrical run (more than $80 million currently).
In an unprecedented move, Warner Bros announces that “Purple Rain” will be made available as a sell through home video release (on VHS, Beta, and Laserdisc) list priced at $29.95, rather than as a rental (normally list priced at $79.95), in time for the 1984 Christmas holiday season. The move proves to be a brilliant decision as the film sells in then record numbers for a home video title, becoming one of the best selling titles in the history of Warner Home Video.
The films soundtrack wins Prince an Academy Award for Best Original Song Score in March of 1985.