Street Date 9/13/22;
Box Office $150.29 million;
$19.99 DVD, $24.99 Blu-ray, $29.99 UHD BD;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for substance abuse, strong language, suggestive material and smoking.
Stars Austin Butler, Tom Hanks, Olivia DeJonge.

Director Baz Luhrmann spotlights the career of Elvis Presley with his usual visual flair and penchant for musical embellishment. In this case, the King of Rock ‘N’ Roll’s unique rockabilly blend of country, gospel and R&B would nominally make the subject matter a nice fit for him.

Narratively, however, Luhrmann decides to examine Presley’s life through the perspective of his manager, Colonel Tom Parker (Tom Hanks), who was widely considered one of the most disreputable men in the entertainment industry, and likely fleeced Elvis out of millions of dollars of potential earnings.

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Austin Butler gives an energetic performance as Elvis, pouring his heart out in the musical numbers to re-create the King’s signature stylings that made the ladies swoon.

The key role of Parker, however, doesn’t quite fit in tonally with the proceedings, as he seems less like a real person and more like it’s just Hanks with some over-the-top make-up and a bad accent. Famously, this is the role that Hanks was filming in early 2020 when he was among the first celebrities to become infected with COVID-19.

The film is presented mostly as a contrast between Elvis’ desire to have a memorable and significant life, and Parker’s efforts to control him like a figurative puppet master (coincidentally, Elvis is hitting Blu-ray not long after the release of Disney’s live-action Pinocchio, in which Hanks plays a literal puppet master, Geppetto). As presented in the film, Elvis grows to resent Parker for what he sees as hampering his fame.

Luhrmann covers the touchstones of Elvis’ career, from his fascination and incorporation of African-American musical styles, to his 1968 comeback special and his multiyear residency in Las Vegas at the International Hotel. The film’s central thesis is that Parker’s financial needs led him to push Elvis to perform to the point of burning out the superstar that he turned to drugs to cope, facilitating his early death at the age of 42.

The tug-of-war between these two aspects of the film, Elvis biopic and Colonel Tom Parker character study, don’t always make for a smooth presentation, though it’s certainly fun to watch. In addition to a steady supply of Elvis music, Luhrmann as he is prone to do mixes in some anachronistic selections such as hip-hop to really set the mood.

The film is colorful and glitzy and offers a dazzling HD presentation with such detail that viewers can practically feel the sweat dripping from Elvis’ face.

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The Blu-ray includes a number of featurettes that delve into the making of the film. The centerpiece is the 22-minute “Bigger Than Life: The Story of Elvis,” which covers the production in general. More-specific topics are covered in the seven-and-a-half-minute “Rock ‘N’ Roll Royalty: The Music and Artists Behind Elvis”; the eight-minute “Fit for a King: The Style of Elvis,” about the costumes; and the seven-and-a-half-minute “Viva Australia: Re-creating Iconic Locations for Elvis,” about the challenges of building several decades worth of historical settings in the land down under.

Also included are a lyric video for the song “Trouble,” and a “Musical Moments” mode that allows viewers to jump to specific songs as they’re performed in the movie.


Baz Luhrmann’s ‘Elvis’ Available for Premium Digital Ownership Aug. 9, on Disc Sept. 13

Director Baz Luhrmann’s biopic Elvis arrives for premium digital ownership at home Aug. 9 and on 4K UHD, Blu-ray and DVD Sept. 13 from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment.

The film, which stars Austin Butler and Tom Hanks, tells the story of Elvis (Butler) through the prism of his complicated relationship with his enigmatic manager Colonel Tom Parker (Hanks). As told by Parker, the film delves into the complex dynamic between the two spanning more than 20 years, from Presley’s rise to fame to his unprecedented stardom, against the backdrop of the evolving cultural landscape and loss of innocence in America. Central to that journey is one of the significant and influential people in Elvis’s life, Priscilla Presley (Olivia DeJonge).

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Special features on digital, 4K Ultra HD and Blu-ray include “Bigger Than Life: The Making of Elvis“; “Rock ‘n Roll Royalty: The Music & Artists Behind Elvis”; “Fit for a King: The Style of Elvis“; “Viva Australia: Recreating Iconic Locations for Elvis“; and the “Trouble” lyric video.

Elvis has so far grossed nearly $130 million at the domestic box office, according to Box Office Mojo. The film earned $106 million internationally for a worldwide gross of more than $235 million. 

Warner Bros. Issues Statement on Tom Hanks’ Coronavirus Diagnosis

Tom Hanks and his wife, Rita Wilson, March 11 publicly announced they had been diagnosed with the coronavirus (COVID-19), the flu-like disease that has stricken more than 125,000 worldwide and killed 5,000.

Hanks and Wilson are in Australia where the actor is in pre-production on a Warner Bros.’ Elvis Presley biopic from director Baz Luhrmann. Hanks plays Presley’s manager, Tom Parker.

In a statement, Warner said it was aware that a “company member” from the Elvis feature film had tested positive for the coronavirus.

“We are working closely with the appropriate Australian health agencies to identify and contact anyone who may have come in direct contact with the individual,” the studio said in a statement. “The health and safety of our company members is always our top priority, and we are taking precautions to protect everyone who works on our productions around the world.”

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Warner said the “individual” who tested positive for COVID-19 is currently receiving treatment.

Indeed, Hanks, on his social media platform said he and Rita are following prescribed medical protocols.

“We Hanks’ will be tested, observed, and isolated for as long as public health and safety requires,” he wrote. “Not much more to it than a one-day-at-a-time approach, no? We’ll keep the world posted and updated.”

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