Purple Rain, the semi-autobiographical and prophetic story of a musician’s rise to superstardom, opened on July 27, 1984. One month later, Prince Roger Nelson became the first artist to ever have the top movie, album, and single at the same time. Dig if you will these purified facts about the musical 1980s cult classic.
1. ITS ORIGINAL TITLE WAS DREAMS.
William Blinn, executive producer of the TV series Fame, wrote the first draft of the script. He finished on May 23, 1983 in order to get back to the set in time for Fame's third season.
2. THE DIRECTOR TOLD PRINCE HE THOUGHT THE FIRST SCRIPT SUCKED.
Albert Magnoli met Prince, one of his two managers, and his bodyguard for an early morning dinner—then shocked Prince by telling him what he really thought of Blinn’s script. After Magnoli told him his vision for the movie, and just the two of them went for a late-night drive where Magnoli felt his life was possibly in danger, Prince agreed to let the USC film school grad write and direct his first full-length picture.
3. PRINCE’S GIRLFRIEND VANITY WAS SET TO PLAY HIS LOVE INTEREST.
But she dropped out a month before filming to play Mary Magdalene in Martin Scorsese’s The Last Temptation of Christ. Scorsese’s biblical flick got delayed because of financing, and Vanity's part in the production was eventually scrapped.
4. JENNIFER BEALS TURNED DOWN PLAYING APOLLONIA.
The Flashdance actress opted to go to Yale instead (she graduated in 1987). Gina Gershon auditioned, but the role went to young actress Apollonia Kotero.
5. THE CAST WAS ENROLLED IN DANCE AND ACTING CLASSES.
The Minnesota Dance Theatre welcomed the cast, mostly made up of the band members of The Revolution and Morris Day and the Time. They were enrolled by Prince mostly to get them in shape. After some people complained about exercising to Jane Fonda videos and making jazz hands, Prince eventually stopped making attendance mandatory.
6. FIRST AVENUE & 7TH ST ENTRY WAS PAID $100,000 TO STAY CLOSED FOR 25 DAYS.
The movie's producers paid $100,000 to close down the legendary Minneapolis music club from November 26 through December 20, 1983 in order to shoot the film's many musical performances. They ended up wrapping the location in just one week.
7. PRINCE GAVE MAGNOLI 100 SONGS TO CHOOSE FROM FOR THE FILM.
The director's decision to include “When Doves Cry” was questioned by Prince’s manager, Rob Cavallo, who didn’t think it would be a hit because it didn’t have a bass line. “Purple Rain” wasn’t even one of the 100 songs; Magnoli heard it live at First Avenue and loved it immediately.
8. PRINCE INSISTED THAT APOLLONIA BREAK UP WITH DAVID LEE ROTH.
He didn’t want his co-star to be known for dating someone famous, and made her promise to not date anyone publicly while promoting Purple Rain. She also had to eat only what he ate.
9. APOLLONIA SUFFERED FROM HYPOTHERMIA AFTER SHE WENT INTO THE LAKE.
The scene where The Kid tells Apollonia to purify herself in the waters of Lake Minnetonka (omitting the part that the body of water in front of them was not Lake Minnetonka) was shot at the north shore of Minneapolis’ Cedar Lake, on the second day of November. She managed to dive in four times before feeling “delirious” and needing medical attention. They finished shooting that scene weeks later in sunny California.
10. PRINCE RODE A CUSTOMIZED MOTORCYCLE.
A customized 1981 Honda CB400A Hondamatic.
11. PARTS OF THE MOVIE CAME FROM PRINCE’S CHILDHOOD.
The Kid’s father telling his son to never get married came from an actual conversation Prince had with his own dad.
12. THE SEX SCENE WAS SHOT THREE DIFFERENT WAYS.
When The Kid and Apollonia have sex in his bedroom, the cast and crew shot it with three different MPAA ratings in mind. The R-rated version was kept in.
13. PRINCE REWROTE SOME OF THE SCRIPT HIMSELF.
At times during filming, Prince would claim that the dialogue wasn’t “popping” enough then sit on the floor and rewrite it.
14. PRINCE’S BANDMATES WERE A COUPLE DURING FILMING.
Revolution guitarist Wendy Melvoin and keyboardist Lisa Coleman kept their relationship private, and stayed together for 20 years.
15. PRINCE AND MORRIS DAY GOT INTO A FIGHT ON SET.
The high school friends went at it, according to the Time drummer Jellybean Johnson.
16. WARNER BROS. ORIGINALLY THOUGHT THEY HAD A DUD.
After studio executives first screened the movie, they thought it was a mess and not commercial enough to be shown in more than 200 theaters. A desperate Rob Cavallo tipped off three movie critics to a secret San Diego screening. When those critics from Rolling Stone, the Los Angeles Times, and Newsweek all wrote glowing reviews of Purple Rain, Warner Bros. decided to put it on 900 screens nationwide. It made $68.4 million at the box office—$61 million more than its meager $7 million budget.