The massive success of Bohemian Rhapsody, perhaps inevitably, has set off a cascade of new biopics of the sort of rock stars who are beloved by the baby boom generation. Next up on the list? Elvis.
It was announced this week that Warner Brothers will produce a full-on biopic of Elvis, with young actor Austin Butler playing the legendary rock star, and Tom Hanks co-starring as his manager, Col. Tom Parker. Baz Luhrmann is the director, and also the co-writer alongside his usual collaborator Craig Pearce.
Butler, who will appear in Quentin Tarantino’s upcoming Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, was chosen over such bigger names as Ansel Elgort and Harry Styles.
The film will focus on the relationship between Presley and Parker, and, per The Hollywood Reporter, will “delve into their complex dynamic spanning over 20 years, from Presley’s rise to fame to his unprecedented stardom, against the backdrop of the evolving cultural landscape and the loss of innocence in America.”
Other than the movies that Elvis starred in himself, there have been quite a few cinematic depictions in recent years of different aspects of The King’s life. Michael Shannon played Elvis to Kevin Spacey’s Nixon in 2016’s Elvis and Nixon, while Val Kilmer played an Elvis-like “Mentor” to Christian Slater’s protagonist in 1992’s True Romance.
The weirdest, and best, Elvis movie? I have to go with Bubba Ho-Tep, from 2002, which starred Bruce Campbell as an older Elvis who had faked his own death in 1977, traded places with an Elvis impersonator, and now lived in a nursing home, where he does battle with an Egyptian mummy.
As for the weirdest and worst? That would be 2014’s Christian musical The Identical, the story of an Elvis-like rock star and his impersonator twin brother, who were separated at birth. The film, featuring a couple of dozen Elvis-knockoff songs, combines the legend of The King with a strange undercurrent of Messianic Judaism.
There’s no word yet on the release date or title for the Elvis film. But whenever it arrives, the film will have a chance to serve as an introduction for younger fans to the music of Presley, who has now been dead for more than 40 years.
CULTURE (counter, pop, and otherwise) and the people who shape it.