Why There’s No Elvis Music in the Movie, Explained
Sep 21, 2023
Priscilla is Sofia Coppola’s latest biopic, centering on the late Elvis Presley’s ex-wife, Priscilla Presley. The King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley, is known for music that kept generations dancing, with songs that are widely played across the globe even today. Coppola’s latest project focuses on the life of Elvis and his ex-wife, Priscilla. The biopic is an adaptation of Elvis and Me, a memoir written by Priscilla in 1985. This will not be the first time the memoir is adapted for TV. Elvis and Me was adapted for the screens in 1988 by Larry Peerce and carried the same name.
Coppola is no stranger to adaptations. Her previous projects of bringing texts to screen include Virgin Suicides (1999), Marie Antoinette (2006), The Bling Ring (2013) and The Beguiled (2017). With a clear knack for adaptations and a talent for storytelling, many Elvis fans are eagerly awaiting the release of Priscilla. However, what might come as a disappointment to many is that Coppola was prohibited from using any of Elvis’ music in the biopic. Fans have been left confused as previous biopics involving Elvis, such as Baz Luhrmann’s 2022 Elvis, have been allowed to carry the singer’s music.
What Is Priscilla About?
Priscilla details the relationship and marriage of Elvis and Priscilla. Based on the memoir, the biopic gives intimate insight into Priscilla’s life before Elvis, her life during the couple’s marriage, the birth of their daughter, the divorce, and what life has been like following the death of the music icon. Priscilla was a mere 14 years old when she began her relationship with Elvis, who was 10 years her senior. She went on to marry the singer when she was 22 and he was 32.
The details of the relationship and marriage between Elvis and Priscilla are no well-kept secret. The fame that surrounded the King of Rock and Roll meant that the happenings in his personal life were closely followed by fans. The relationship between the couple has been made into stories time and time again.
However, as per Coppola, Priscilla, unlike previous Elvis biopics that focused primarily on the singer and his career, will have the life of Priscilla herself in the limelight, allowing a female perspective into Elvis’ and Priscilla’s relationship. As such, Elvis will remain a supporting career as the biopic details Priscilla’s life as the wife of the King of Rock and Roll and the highs and lows that came with it.
Why Doesn’t Priscilla Have Any Elvis Music?
Despite Priscilla directly relating to Elvis’ life, the biopic will not feature any of the icon’s music. Coppola’s request for the use of Elvis’ music was denied by Elvis Presley Enterprises, which has its ownership divided between Authentic Brands Group and the Presley Family, with 85% being owned by the former. The denial was despite the fact that Authentic Brands Group allowed Elvis’s music to be used in Luhrmann’s 2022 biopic. Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter in August 2023, referring to the rejection by Authentic Brands Group, Coppola said, “They don’t like projects that they haven’t originated, and they’re protective of their brand.”
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Ever since the Priscilla biopic was announced, the estate of Elvis Presley has been vocal about its opposition. The estate has accused Priscilla of simply wanting to make a profit off the story. Talking to TMZ, representatives of the estate claimed that they had no knowledge of Priscilla being produced and that consent had not been obtained from the estate to do so.
However, many have speculated that the vehement opposition from the estate to the production of Priscilla and the denial of the request for music comes in light of Coppola’s biopic exploring controversial aspects of Elvis’ and Priscilla’s marriage. As per The Hollywood Reporter, the film is set to document scenes including how Elvis picked out Priscilla’s clothes for her and episodes of him being unable to control his anger.
Despite not being allowed to include Elvis’ music in the biopic, Coppola hasn’t let the hurdle deter her. “…that made us be more creative,” said Coppola in reference to the denial. Taking the challenge in stride, the director has worked to give the film her own unique twist.
Employing the talents of her husband, Thomas Mars, and his band Phoenix, Coppola has included covers of music that still remain relevant to the story of Priscilla and Elvis. One such cover is of Frankie Avalon’s “Venus,” which is the tune that was reportedly playing during Elvis and Priscilla’s first meeting.
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Despite Elvis’ estate not being happy with the film and not allowing any of the King of Rock and Roll’s music to be used, Priscilla herself is quite satisfied with the movie and Coppola’s creative deviations. However, she did admit it was difficult to watch a film about herself. Talking to TMZ, Priscilla said,
“I am very excited to see the interpretation of my book by the masterful Sofia Coppola. She has such an extraordinary perspective and I have always been such an admirer of her work. I’m certain this movie will take everyone on an emotional journey.”
Priscilla has already premiered at the Venice Film Festival and received largely positive reviews, scoring 94% on Rotten Tomatoes. The film is also set to be screened at the New York Film Festival, scheduled from September 29 to October 15. Although A24 was to initially release the biopic in October this year, the release date has now been pushed back to November 3, 2023.
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