“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