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
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.