New film to highlight mystery of Elvis’ faith

Four different projects are attempting to release the first Hollywood biographical movie about Elvis Presley. Only one looks at his spirituality.

BY: Rob Kerby

 

Who will release the first Hollywood biographical movie about Elvis Presley? According to the Hollywood Reporter, four productions are in the works — and one of them, The Identical, focuses on the elusive question of Presley’s Christian faith.

Elvis Presley, 1959

Worldwide, the enigmatic Presley sold over one billion records, more than any other artist, according to the website BiographyElvis. He won multiple gold and platinum awards for 131 albums and singles — far more than any other artist. Nominated 14 times for Grammy awards, he only won three — all for Gospel recordings: the album “How Great Thou Art” in 1967, the album “He Touched Me” in 1972 and his live Memphis concert recording of the song “How Great Thou Art” in 1974.


Given the success of biographical movies about Ray Charles’ life in 2004′s Ray and Johnny Cash’s in the 2005 Walk the Line, the race is on to release an Elvis film. ”Four unauthorized Presley projects are in varying stages of development,” writes Daniel Miller in the Hollywood Reporter. “Each tackles the topic differently.”


Billionaire producer Steve Bing’s project at Fox is based on the bestselling biography Last Train to Memphis, and “is expected to be a traditional biopic,” writes Miller. “The Identical has a faith-based bent and centers on an Elvis impersonator; Fame & Fortune is adapted from a memoir by a Presley bodyguard; and a project financed by producer Michael Benaroya, Elvis & Nixon, centers on an encounter between the singer and the president.”


However, the legal issues related to any Presley film are enormous. “The singer — whose superstardom dovetailed with an abusive relationship with manager ‘Colonel’ Tom Parker, a rocky romance with wife Priscilla Presley and battles with drugs that contributed to his 1977 death from a heart attack at age 42 — would seem perfect fodder for the big screen. But a handful of key issues stand in the way, from the narrative challenges presented by Elvis’ complicated and at times dark personal story to working with

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