Netflix has delayed the release of one of Chadwick Boseman's final films in the wake of the actor's tragic passing over the weekend. Boseman died on Friday following a prolonged, private battle with colon cancer. One of the last projects he completed, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, was scheduled for a preview event on Monday, which has now been postponed.
"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," a Netflix spokesperson told The Hollywood Reporter. "This is an incredible loss. We are cancelling Monday’s preview event of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. Please join us in sending your thoughts to his."
Boseman co-starred with Viola Davis and Colman Domingo in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom — a film based on the 1982 play by Pulitzer-Prize-winning writer August Wilson. It is set in Chicago in 1927 and concerns the tension between Ma Rainey (Davis), her Black horn player (Boseman) and her white management team.
"Working with Chadwick on Ma Rainey was a glorious experience," said director George C. Wolfe of the project. "Everyday we all got to witness the ferocity of his talent and the gentleness of his heart. A truly blessed, loving, gifted and giving human being."
Boseman's passing caught people all over the world off-guard this weekend, including some who had worked extremely closely with him. His family explained in a public statement that he had been diagnosed with colon cancer in 2016, but had chosen to keep it a secret from his fans. Throughout his meteoric rise to fame, he was privately enduring chemotherapy treatments and other procedures.
Boseman died at home in Los Angeles, surrounded by family. He is survived by his wife, Taylor Simone Ledward, and their children. While Boseman worked on many groundbreaking projects, he is best-known to many for playing the Black Panther in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Black Panther director Ryan Coogler revealed that even he did not know about Boseman's diagnosis throughout all their time working together.
"Chad deeply valued his privacy, and I wasn't privy to the details of his illness," Coogler wrote in a tribute published by The Hollywood Reporter. "After his family released their statement, I realized that he was living with his illness the entire time I knew him... It is with a heavy heart and a sense of deep gratitude to have ever been in his presence, that I have to reckon with the fact that Chad is an ancestor now. And I know that he will watch over us, until we meet again."