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.

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CKX Inc., the company that controls Presley’s music, image and other intellectual property.”

The firm is highly resistant to any film that will cast Presley in a negative light.

“CKX, which acquired 85 percent of Elvis Presley Enterprises from Presley’s daughter, Lisa Marie Presley, for $100 million in 2005, must approve all uses” of Presley’s more than 700 compositions, writes Miller. “Given CKX’s fierce protectiveness of the Elvis image and the cost of licensing music, which can run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars per track,” some of the Elvis films “aren’t even bothering to use Presley songs.”

“CKX has not been asked for any licenses to Elvis Presley’s music by any of these film projects, nor has it granted any,” a spokesman told Miller.

“The company declined further comment,” Miller notes. “CKX, which owns the Idol brand and in June was purchased by private-equity firm Apollo Management for $509 million, has shown that it is not afraid to sue to protect Elvis rights. In February, it filed lawsuits in U.S. and U.K. courts against individuals it accused of copyright infringement and illegal sales of Presley’s music and footage that features him. CKX also has filed separate lawsuits against a record label and a music publisher, seeking allegedly unpaid fees and royalties.

“The company has a financial incentive to maintain the image of an almost cartoonishly feel-good Presley whom many fans remember, meaning it likely would not endorse a warts-and-all biopic (and with only a minority interest, Presley’s daughter doesn’t have the final say on issues such as licensing).


“According to first-quarter 2011 CKX filings, Graceland alone generated revenue of $5.2 million, compared with $4.4 million brought in by royalties and licensing. Indeed, Presley trails only Michael Jackson among dead-celebrity earners, according to Forbes, which says Presley brought in $55 million from October 2010 to October 2011. Jackson brought in $170 million.”

“That Presley hasn’t gotten the big-screen treatment is ironic,” writes Miller, “considering he starred in 31 narrative films during his career.”

The Identical, a $3 million independent project from City of Peace Films, is taking a surprising approach: the faith-based route,” reveals

Miller. “City of Peace president Yochanan Marcellino says the script, adapted by Space Cowboys scribe Howie Klausner from a play about an Elvis impersonator, focuses on Presley’s interest in Gospel music and his religious roots. The project will star Ryan Pelton, an actual Elvis impersonator. Marcellino says plans call for Identical to include licensed Presley music — a combination of covers and original recordings — but he declined to discuss negotiations with rights-holders.”
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Rob Kerby
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