Elvis Presley Heads the Summer Movie Line-Up

Now that coronavirus restrictions are over and people are swarming back to entertainment venues, what can we expect to see in the movie theatres? Warner Bros’ Elvis, a fanciful recounting of the life of singer Elvis Presley starring Austin Butler as the king of rock and roll, is the headline act, opening in 742 cinemas across the UK and Ireland this weekend, beating Top Gun: Maverick which opened on 737 screens in May.

Directed by Baz Luhrmann, the film dives into the life of Elvis Presley, viewed from his tangled relationship with manager, Colonel Tom Parker. The story burrows within the mystifying dynamic between Presley and Parker stretching across 20 years, from Presley’s rise to fame to his incredible stardom, in the circumstances of the ever-changing cultural landscape and loss of innocence in America. One of the most important people during his journey was Priscilla Presley, played by Olivia DeJonge.

Elvis is the eighth post-pandemic title to open in more than 700 cinemas, but only seven titles had ever topped that figure before the March 2020 lockdown. The biggest of those, James Bond title No Time To Die, opened in 772 locations in September/October last year, while The Batman opened in 709 locations.

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But as Screen Daily points out, a wide release is no guarantee of huge box-office numbers: Downton Abbey: A New Era recorded the second-widest opening of all time with 746 sites, but took a comparatively slim £3.1m, down 40% on the opening of the first film. Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets Of Dumbledore did better with £5.9m from 714 sites, but was still significantly down on the £15.3m and £12.3m openings of the first two titles in the series.

Hoping to match Elvis is Scott Derrickson’s The Black Phone, a child abduction shocker, but this has been widely panned by critics, citing Ethan Hawke’s miscasting and a creaky supernatural plot; The Telegraph calls it “a hellish blend of tastelessness and ineptitude”.

Also, recently released is Netflix’s limited theatrical of Chris Williams’ animation The Sea Beast, before it gets globally streaming release on July 8th. The film, about a young girl who stows away on a ship that hunts sea monsters, had its world premiere at Annecy International Animation Festival last week.

Also in contention with Elvis are Jurassic World: Dominion and Top Gun: Maverick, and if you’re looking for something for the kids Disney’s Lightyear looks like a good summer bet.

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