Last week, we got our first look at Baz Luhrmann’s ELVIS biopic. How have the numbers changed over the past week? More on that below.
ELVIS comes three years after the hugely successful biopics about Queen and Elton John. Combined BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY and ROCKETMAN made over $1.1B at the box office worldwide, with RHAPSODY winning four Academy Awards, including Best Actor for Rami Malek. ROCKETMAN also walked home with a gold statue for Best Original Song.
There are several big differences between ELVIS and those two films.
First, the music of Queen and Elton John continue to be enormously relevant today. Four of Queen’s songs have over a billion streams on Spotify, including “Bohemian Rhapsody’, which is closing in on two billion. And, of course, Elton John is still making music today. Just this year, he scored a top 10 pop hit with “Cold Heart.”
As for Elvis Presley, he may have been the King of Rock and Roll, but it’s been 45 years since he passed away and over 40 years since his last top 40 hit. Most people under 55 probably don’t know much about him, mainly because he hasn’t had much of a presence in the cultural zeitgeist since his death.
Second, RHAPSODY and ROCKETMAN were carried by two well known lead actors. RHAPSODY was sold on Malek’s performance as Freddy Mercury. Malek may not have been a household name when the film came out, but he won a lead actor Emmy for MR. ROBOT three years prior the film. And from the moment you saw him as Mercury, you just knew he nailed the performance.
As for ROCKETMAN, it was Taron Egerton who played Elton John. Egerton had already toplined two KINGSMAN films and emerged as a breakout actor of his generation.
ELVIS is toplined by Austin Butler. Based on the trailer, Butler seems to have nailed the look and swagger of Elvis. The only problem is that he’s relatively unknown. Maybe that’s why it looks like Warner Bros is leaning more into Tom Hanks in a supporting role than Butler in the lead.
As you can see from the posters above, RHAPSODY and ROCKETMAN were marketed around their lead-actors, while ELVIS is being sold on a belt buckle? Or is that a marquee? It’s certainly not Austin Butler.
It’s easy to see why Warner Bros. made this film. The idea of visionary director Baz Luhrmann bringing Elvis to the big screen is very compelling.
Luhrmann had just come off THE GREAT GATSBY, his biggest hit to date. His take on the F. Scott Fitzgerald classic won two Academy Awards and grossed over $350M worldwide on a $100M budget. He had carte blanche to make whatever he wanted for his follow up.
But, as the early numbers suggest, ELVIS may have a bumpier road to release than the Queen and Elton John biopics.
The good news is that the trailer led to a sizable jump in awareness. It soared from 12% pre-trailer to 30% today. That’s an impressive gain.
The real problem is on the interest side. While awareness increased dramatically, interest did not. The Quorum has fielded ELVIS three times since the trailer came out, and though interest zig-zagged a bit, it sits at 51. after briefly dipping to 4.8.
This is hardly what you want when a trailer drops. ELVIS finds itself in a position where more people know about this film, but they don’t seem especially interested in seeing it. While ELVIS currently ranks 25th in awareness among all films being tracked by The Quorum, it ranks 37th in interest.
Austin Butler may give an Oscar-worthy performance in the film. And it’s probably not wise to bet against Baz Luhrmann, but at this moment, Warner Bros. has its work cut out for it.