Ma Rainey's Black Bottom (film)

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom
Directed byGeorge C. Wolfe
Produced by
Screenplay byRuben Santiago-Hudson
Based onMa Rainey's Black Bottom
by August Wilson
Music byBranford Marsalis
CinematographyTobias A. Schliessler
Edited byAndrew Mondshein
Distributed byNetflix

Ma Rainey's Black Bottom is an upcoming drama film directed by George C. Wolfe, based on the play of the same name by August Wilson. It centers on a fateful recording session of "Mother of the Blues" Ma Rainey in 1927 Chicago, highlighting the racist exploitation of black artists and the struggle to combat institutional oppression.

The film stars Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman, in his final film role prior to his death in August 2020.[1]


Tensions and temperatures rise over the course of an afternoon recording session in 1920s Chicago as a band of musicians await trailblazing performer, the legendary "Mother of the Blues," Ma Rainey (Viola Davis). Late to the session, the fearless, fiery Ma engages in a battle of wills with her white manager and producer over control of her music. As the band waits in the studio's claustrophobic rehearsal room, ambitious trumpeter Levee (Chadwick Boseman) – who has an eye for Ma's girlfriend and is determined to stake his own claim on the music industry – spurs his fellow musicians into an eruption of stories, truths, and lies that will forever change the course of their lives.



Denzel Washington initially had a deal with the television network HBO to produce nine of the playwright August Wilson's plays into films, with Ma Rainey's Black Bottom amongst them.[2] By June 2019, the deal had been moved to Netflix. Viola Davis, Chadwick Boseman, Glynn Turman, Colman Domingo, and Michael Potts had been cast in the film, with George C. Wolfe set to direct.[3] In July 2019, Taylour Paige, Jonny Coyne, Jeremy Shamos, and Dusan Brown joined the cast of the film.[4]

Filming commenced on July 8, 2019 in Pittsburgh, with sets converted into 1927 Chicago, and wrapped on August 16, 2019.[5]


  1. ^ O'Neill, Shane (August 29, 2020). "This will be Chadwick Boseman's final movie". Looper. Retrieved August 29, 2020.
  2. ^ Denzel Washington to Direct August Wilson Play for HBO in Broad Deal
  3. ^ Viola Davis, Chadwick Boseman & More To Star In Denzel Washington Netflix Pic Adaptation Of August Wilson’s ‘Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom’
  4. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (July 2, 2019). "'Ma Rainey's Black Bottom': Taylour Paige, Jonny Coyne & More Join Denzel Washington-Produced August Wilson Adaptation". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved July 2, 2019.
  5. ^ Sciullo, Maria (July 1, 2019). "August Wilson's 'Ma Rainey's Black Bottom' prepping exteriors on Pittsburgh's North Side". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved July 2, 2019.

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