On March 25, 2009, the film industry magazine Variety reported that Nzingha Stewart, a black female director, had acquired the feature film rights to for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf from Shange and that Lionsgate had signed Stewart to create a screenplay adaptation and direct the film version of the play.
Stewart, at Lionsgate's direction, approached Tyler Perry about producing the film. However, Perry told Lionsgate that if he produced it, he also wanted to write and direct it. Perry then usurped the project from Stewart and scrapped her script. The shift prompted controversy over whether Perry, panned for formulaic, low-brow productions had the skill and consciousness to properly depict an iconic feminist work. Stewart remained on in the token position of executive producer of the film.
On September 3, 2009, Lionsgate announced it had acquired the distribution rights to Tyler Perry's 34th Street Films adaptation of the play, with principal photography originally scheduled to take place in Atlanta, Georgia in November and December 2009. The film, which was retitled "For Colored Girls", was released on November 5, 2010 and was written, directed and produced by Perry. The cast includes Thandie Newton, Loretta Devine, Kimberly Elise, Whoopi Goldberg, Janet Jackson, Phylicia Rashad, Anika Noni Rose, Kerry Washington, Tessa Thompson, Michael Ealy, Macy Gray and Omari Hardwick. Mariah Carey had also been cast, but pulled out in May 2010, citing medical reasons.
Perry's decision to make the book into a film was not met without controversy, with some, such as Oprah Winfrey, having expressed doubts over whether the book should be made into a film at all. Others had reservations based on Perry's position at the helm of such an important book in African American literature, particularly considering the controversies raised by Precious, a film he lent his name to.
When asked if she held reservations about Perry's adaptation of her work, Shange responded: "I had a lot of qualms. I worried about his characterizations of women as plastic." In reference to the film post-production, she stated that "I think he did a very fine job, although I'm not sure I would call it a finished film."