Do You Want Your Elvis Biopic More Like ’50 Shades of Grey’ or ‘Australia’? How About Both?

By  · Published on May 1st, 2014


There’s a whole lotta (head) shakin’ going on and, no, said shakin’ is not come care of that terrible Elvis pun, because the shakin’ predates the pun. So there.

The Wrap is reporting that the King himself, Elvis Presley, might be getting a shiny new biopic, care of two people who have so far proven themselves ill-equipped to translate historical events to the big screen in a clear, concise and inspired manner. The outlet shares the news that Saving Mr. Banks scribe (and also 50 Shades of Grey adapter, please her heart) Kelly Marcel is penning a new biopic about the king’s life for the big screen. As of now, it’s “unclear which periods of Presley’s life would be depicted in the film,” but the script is described as an original take on his life. (Curiously, the outlet calls the currently-untitled film a biopic before stating that it’s “believed to be a biopic” later in their same piece. Shrug.)

And although the king of rock n’ roll doesn’t have a bitter-faced British author to drive his narrative, he does have something that could be compelling the film’s possible director – a metric ton of sparkles.

The Wrap is also reporting that Baz Luhrmann is in negotiations to helm the Warner Bros. film, and while the outlet could not wrest any details about the deal out of WB, sources tell them that the filmmaker “has been in negotiations for several weeks.” Moreover, should Luhrmann close his deal, “it’s expected that his wife, Oscar winner Catherine Martin, would board the project as costume designer and possibly as production designer as well,” which is literally the only thing about this story that makes sense.

Marcel’s resume so far is kind of a wacky one – she’s adapted 50 Shades of Grey for the big screen, a gig that’s obviously huge for her (and as someone who tried to read the book and totally failed to slog through it, I am in awe of anyone’s ability to turn it into a production fit for the screen), Saving Mr. Banks was a Black List script, and she helped create the well-liked but ultimately cancelled Terra Nova. Saving Mr. Banks sure had its merits, but the film doesn’t work too well as a true biopic, and the historical inaccuracies within it will likely be picked apart for years to come. Does Elvis deserve that same kind of feature? No, and honestly, we fear the wrath of his devoted fanbase if this thing isn’t a whole lotta true (sorry).

Luhrmann also so seems like a bad pick for a biopic. There’s no question the filmmaker is uniquely skilled at crafting mood and tone and BIG COLORFUL THINGS WITH ALSO A LOT OF MUSIC, but his films tend to meander oddly (hi, Australia, you weirdo two-movies-in-one thing) and he works best when he can adapt history for his use (hey, The Great Gatsby). Again, this is not a skillset that screams, “really important biopic!” (And, generally speaking, I am a big fan of Luhrmann, despite some recent misfires.)

There is, however, one little slice of silver lining to this entire mess – the studio is in possession of rights to “all musical components in Presley’s catalog for this project,” so if we can just keep Leonardo DiCaprio or whoever Luhrmann ultimately casts in the film away from the microphone, step away, Leo, okay?, perhaps this thing won’t be a wash.