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If you look at the internet right now, there’s a glutton of content surrounding Drake, Beyoncé & Prince. The interesting thing about Prince since his death last Thursday is the rest of the world is catching up to his brilliance. One of those brilliant things? The rather ballsy Purple Rain film which thanks to high fan demand is back in theaters. During its original theatrical run 32 years ago, the film grossed over $70 million and ended 1984 as the 10th highest grossing film of the year.

Naturally, Purple Rain director Albert Mangoli has been asked to reminisce about his landmark film, the one that made Prince a movie star and a crossover sensation. One of the greater easter eggs about the film? Warner Bros. originally wanted a certain Midnight Cowboy to play The Kid, not Prince. In a Rolling Stone interview, Mangoli recalls the moment he almost walked away from Warner over authenticity.

The first meeting at Warner Brothers was with the head of the studio and production and some executives, and the first thing they said was, “Is it possible to ask if John Travolta can play Prince?” I looked at [Prince’s managers] and thought, “This is what I’m talking about. Welcome to this world.”

Okay, try to imagine this for a second. Imagine John Travolta in the purple, battling Morris Day & The Time for the rights of being top band at First Avenue. Imagine Travolta telling Apollonia to go purify herself in the waters of Lake Minnetonka. Yeah, that wouldn’t have been pleasant, now would it? Magnoli, a recent film school graduate immediately shut down the idea of Travolta and begun negotiating further, detailing the need for the film to be rated-R.

I said to the Warners guys, “Guys, this is not going to happen. This is unacceptable. What we have going for us is authenticity.” They were shocked. I said, “Next question.” The development people came to me and said, “The script is sexist and misogynistic and violent and erotic, and it puts down women.” They’re looking at a PG-13 concept. I’m saying, “No, it’s an R. It’s a brutal story with a lot of darkness in it.” I was on my way to the airport when Cavallo called and said, “You’re going back tomorrow.” They said they’d like to go forward: “We understand what you’re saying. Just go make the movie.”

Given Prince’s vices in the film in regards to treating Apollonia at times, there’s no way you could do Purple Rain in this current climate. It’s still a pop culture phenomenon some 30 years after its initial release. But, be thankful. We almost had to deal with John Travolta versus Morris Day on film.

[Rolling Stone]

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