It’s been just over a month since Chadwick Boseman passed away, and it’s gutting to realize that he still had so much ahead of him, so much he could have done had life not handed him a bum card. In fact, there’s only one more Boseman film that has yet to be released: A film version of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, August Wilson’s play set amongst blues musicians in 1920s Chicago. The movie is due for Netflix on December 18, but you can get a sense of what it will look like from the first images dropped to the streamer’s Twitter account Wednesday night.
Here's your first look at Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman in MA RAINEY'S BLACK BOTTOM, based on August Wilson’s award-winning play from director George C. Wolfe.@MaRaineyFilm comes to Netflix 18 December. pic.twitter.com/fuMIec46KC
— NetflixFilm (@NetflixFilm) September 30, 2020
The four images show Boseman as Levee, an ambitious trumpeter who squares off against legendary singer and “Mother of the Blues” Ma Rainey, played by Viola Davis during a tumultuous recording session. The film also stars If Beale Street Could Talk’s Colman Domingo, Glynn Turman, and Michael Potts, all three of them alumni of The Wire.
Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom is the second of Wilson’s beloved plays to make it to get turned into a movie recently, following 2016’s Fences, directed by and starring Denzel Washington and which gave Davis her Oscar. First staged in 1984, Ma Rainey is part of Wilson’s 10-play “Pittsburgh Cycle,” the only one not set in the western Pennsylvania town, and each of which portrays African-American life in a different decade. It was the second play in the cycle produced, following Jitney, which was set in the 1970s. May they make movies of them all.