On Saturday, Netflix announced it would delay a virtual preview event for Ma Rainey's Black Bottom following the death of star Chadwick Boseman. Scheduled for Monday, the event would have offered a look at the new film in which Boseman stars opposite Viola Davis and Coleman Domingo. Boseman died on Friday of colon cancer at the age of 43. Boseman's star was still rising after headlining Marvel Studios' Black Panther in 2018. Ma Rainey's Black Bottom -- an adaptation of the August Wilson play set in the 1920s that tells the story of the "mother of blues" and her bandmates -- will now be one of Boseman's final performances.
In the film, Boseman plays Levee, a gifted and determined trumpet player. George C. Wolfe directs the movie, which is produced by Denzel Wahington and Escape Artists.
"We are heartbroken over today's news of the passing of Chadwick Boseman, a 'true fighter' as his family called him in their poignant tribute," Netflix said in a statement. "This is an incredible loss. We are canceling Monday's preview event of Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. Please join us in sending your thoughts to his family and loved ones."
Many of Boseman's colleagues have expressed their grief and loss via social media. Davis wrote, "Chadwick…..no words to express my devastation of losing you. Your talent, your spirit, your heart, your authenticity……..It was an honor working beside you, getting to know you….Rest well prince…May flights of angels sing thee to thy heavenly rest. I love you!"
Washington shared in a statement, "He was a gentle soul and a brilliant artist, who will stay with us for eternity through his iconic performances over his short yet illustrious career. God bless Chadwick Boseman."
Boseman wasn't participating in the Netflix event. It was to feature a Q&A with Davis and Wolfe.
The film's synopsis reads, "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 (Academy Award winner 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 revealing truths that will forever change the course of their lives."
Ma Rainey's Black Bottom releases on Netflix this year.