Prince fans descended upon screenings of “Purple Rain” in New York this weekend as if they were attending one the late pop icon’s live concerts.
AMC Theaters is screening the 1984 musical drama that helped catapult Prince into stardom in 87 theaters across the U.S. through Thursday, April 27. The atmosphere in one downtown Manhattan AMC showing the film Sunday felt more like a live event than a movie, with everything from frenetic cheering and applause at the start of the opening credits and after every musical number to audience members taking iPhone photos of the screen.
The nearly-full theater included many fans clad in purple, some of whom shouted out things like “We love you Prince” while clapping in unison to songs like “Let’s Go Crazy.”
The story of a young musician competing with a rival performer while falling for a young singer, “Purple Rain” balances its largely one-dimensional plot (and love scenes that at times resemble soft core porn) with truly electrifying performances of Prince at his absolute best, oozing with cool whether lighting up the stage with his white guitar or carving up the streets on his purple motorcycle.
“He’s in a realm where other artists should just sit at his feet and take notes,” said Cheryl Duncan, a public relations executive who worked on Prince’s Welcome 2 America tour in 2011 and who traveled from New Jersey to see the film Sunday. “While it’s awesome that this was captured on tape, it’s also a profound disappointment that he’s not around to do this anymore. I hope they extend it so it allows another generation to see it.”
Regardless of whether or not AMC shows the film beyond the planned one week run, the tribute to Prince has already given some fans the opportunity to enjoy a very familiar movie in a completely new way.
“It’s actually better than I thought it was,” said Brooklyn resident Federico Anderson, adding that he watched “Purple Rain” on VHS between 40 and 50 times as a teen but had never seen it in a communal experience. “My mother would never take me to see it. It was too dirty.”