There was a tight competition at the box office this past weekend as Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis went toe-to-toe with Top Gun: Maverick, which was still performing ridiculously well in its fifth week. When the dust settled, Elvis ended up edging out Top Gun, but both movies had to be happy with the results, especially as Luhrmann’s musical emerged with an A- CinemaScore from audiences, and a 94% Audience Score on Rotten Tomatoes. Very, very impressive.
Part of the pleasure of watching Elvis on screen is the incredible performance by leading man Austin Butler, who looks and acts the part, so much so that the movie has received overwhelming praise from the Presley family. And this might have something to do with the incredible attention to detail that Baz Luhrmann apparently brought to the production, including the scene where Elvis performs his televised Christmas special in front of a live audience.
In the movie, it’s a bone of contention. Elvis’ manager, Col. Tom Parker (Tom Hanks), wants the singer to deliver a Christmas special that will make the networks happy. Elvis, though, wants to reclaim his edge and return to being the singer he used to be, so there is push back. But Elvis co-star Olivia DeJonge, who plays Priscilla Presley in the film, also pointed out the lengths that Luhrmann went to replicate this history, telling CinemaBlend during a recent interview:
Elvis star Austin Butler talked about being nervous when it came time to sing in front of an actual audience, as was required to film the concert scenes for Baz Luhrmann’s movie, and the advice he received from Rami Malek of Bohemian Rhapsody fame. But because the bulk of the eyes would be on Butler during any concert moments, you could see how Luhrmann could take the foot off of the gas and not painfully recreate every beat of the actual moments. If you have watched the Elvis movie, take a look at actual footage from the 1968 comeback special that Elvis Presley staged, when he chose to sing his classics, instead of audience friendly Christmas tunes:
Even before people knew about the attention to detail being poured into Elvis, crowds turned out. And why not? Reviews for Elvis were positive, and anticipation for the movie started building from the moment that the first trailer arrived, so we can see how that translated into tickets sold. Now, will Elvis continue to perform? Can it hold onto its legs the way that Top Gun: Maverick managed to do? Or will everything just get crushed by Thor: Love and Thunder? Time will tell.
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