Netflix's release of Ma Rainey's Black Bottom will no doubt make for solemn viewing.
The upcoming film features the late Chadwick Boseman in what became his final performance. Tragically, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom will be released posthumously after Boseman passed away on Aug. 28. following a battle with colon cancer. No premiere date is set, but the film was expected to see a 2020 awards season release.
Netflix delays preview of Chadwick Boseman's final film
A virtual preview event for Ma Rainey's Black Bottom was scheduled for Monday, Aug. 31, but Netflix postponed the planned screening and conversation out of respect for those affected by Boseman's passing. Director George C. Wolfe and the film's star, Viola Davis, were to participate in the event.
The film is an adaptation of August Wilson's 1982 play of the same title about African American blues singer Ma Rainey. Davis portrays the pioneering musician, who's been dubbed the "Mother of Blues." Boseman co-stars as "Levee," a trumpeter in a quartet that's collaborating with Rainey. The film explores tensions with Rainey and her white producers as well as the psyche of the young musician portrayed by Boseman.
Chadwick Boseman's final movie: Ma Rainey's Black Bottom
Ma Rainey's Black Bottom is an awards season hopeful and, even prior to Boseman's death, was seen as a potential Oscar contender for the actor. The drama completed filming in 2019, and is still expected to premiere later in 2020.
Some of Boseman's best-known roles were as "King T'Challa" in Black Panther, Jackie Robinson in 42, and James Brown in Get On Up. His only other role in a 2020 film was another Netflix release, Spike Lee's Da 5 Bloods. The streamer marked the actor's passing with a Twitter tribute that featured a shot from the film: "A hero in every sense. Rest in power to Chadwick Boseman whose gifts will live on forever," Netflix wrote.
Boseman's sudden passing on Aug. 28 came after he'd quietly battled colon cancer over a four-year period. The heartbreaking news was confirmed on the actor's official Twitter page in a posthumous message, which has since become the platform's most-liked tweet of all time.
The Twitter announcement added that Boseman completed his final film roles — Ma Rainey's Black Bottom included — "during and between countless surgeries and chemotherapy." Boseman, called a "true fighter" by his family, died at the young age of 43.