Alia Penner remembers the first time Purple Rain played two years ago at Cinespia, the outdoor movie series at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery she co-organizes with founder John Wyatt. The reaction to the flashy musical stood out.
“The crowd is so beautiful and lively. It’s a totally different energy. It’s a Prince energy,” Penner tells EW. “We knew a lot of people would want to celebrate his life, and we’re so excited to do it again.”
Saturday’s screening of the 1984 cult film will, in fact, be a celebration of life. The Los Angeles screening during Independence Day weekend will feature all things Prince, who died in April at 57. You know it’s a true honorary night when Questlove of The Roots is coming in to DJ.
“Probably the most important musical on film since The Beatles’ Hard Days Night came out in the ’60s,” Questlove told EW in a statement. “Not until Hamilton has another musical changed the world and changed lives. Purple Rain is still magic after all this time.”
Along with Questlove’s set on the decks, Saturday will be filled with special guests, excessive dancing, and a tributary shrine — all for Prince. Just look at Penner’s poster, which EW is exclusively revealing.
Cinespia screenings are complemented by reimagined pop art posters by Penner. Given it was her second try at creating a Purple Rain one, Penner wanted to honor the late musical maestro in a more intimate, aptly funereal fashion. “I really liked that photo in particular, because it felt like it was really personal and in his room, which I think is really important to everything that Prince represents,” she says. “He has so many songs that are about him being alone in his room. In Purple Rain, you see where that comes from.
“I love the iconic imagery from Purple Rain the album with the flowers on the ground,” Penner adds. “I’m a big flower girl; it’s a perfect marriage of ideas.”
Attendees will also be able to snap pictures in the heavenly photo booth set Penner is building, in addition to grooving to Questlove’s set. Those who haven’t joyously mourned Prince’s passing will have the quintessential night to do so. “It’s going to be a really emotional night,” Penner says. “I don’t think people are going to want to come home, in true Prince fashion.”
Penner has one piece of advice for those attending: dress up and go crazy. “Let your freak out if you need to get it out: Saturday’s the night,” she says.
Cinespia’s sold-out Purple Rain screening is Saturday at 9 p.m. PT. Its summer run continues with The Sandlot (July 9), the Kill Bills (July 16), The Muppets Movie (July 23), and Sabrina (July 30).