Elvis Presley’s daughter, granddaughter, and ex wife are praising the new Baz Luhrmann movie, “Elvis,” movie very publicly. I’m sure they really love it, but they also need it to be a hit more than ever, and more even than Warner Bros.
The whole world of Elvis, once a financial powerhouse, needs a supercharge to get it going again. The movie is a godsend of publicity for them. Priscilla, Lisa Marie, and Lisa Marie’s actress daughter, Riley Keough, are surely praying for a big hit when “Elvis” opens June 24th.
That’s because the state of Elvis needs to be reinvigorated and fast.
For one thing, Lisa Marie’s finances are in shambles after years of lawsuits and litigation over tens of millions in losses. Years ago she sold the rights to the Elvis estate to the now-deceased Robert F. X. Sillerman. But instead of great investments turning that money into a bigger pot of gold, Lisa Marie says her business manager ripped her off. They’ve been in court for a long time.
There are many other issues. Elvis record sales are in the toilet. His generation of addicted fans has aged out. They own every record they need. A new generation has not been forthcoming, a la the Beatles or Rolling Stones. Elvis is thought of as a 50s act, or a Vegas performer. He didn’t write his own songs, so all those hits played on the radio are generating money for the writers and publishers but not Elvis. (This is why the fight continues in Congress for a performers’ radio royalty, which radio conglomerates are vehemently against.)
Sales of the actual records are minimal these days. According to Music Connect,yeat to date sales of all Elvis records including streaming comes to just 1.4 million. The top 3 selling singles so far in 2022 are “Can’t Help Falling in Love,” “Suspicious Minds,” and “Jailhouse Rock.”
The best selling Elvis album, “Essential Elvis,” has sold just 144,000 copies so far this year.
So the success of the Baz Luhrmann movie, it’s hoped, will spur all these sales. A soundtrack album is coming, but it’s full of newly recorded versions of old Elvis hits. The new artists get paid, but Elvis doesn’t — he didn’t write the songs. The Presleys have to hope that fans will go back to the originals and want them in their collections.
According to Forbes, Elvis’s net worth as a dead celebrity in 2020 was $23 million –not much compared to modern blockbuster stars like Madonna or Justin Bieber. Revenue comes from merchandise and ticket sales at Elvis’s famed home, Graceland. But the last two years have hit attendance hard. Graceland was closed for two months in 2020, and is only operating at limited capacity because of the pandemic. Again, the movie should drive new, curious tourists to this famed destination.
Revenue garnered just from the movie’s PR should help the once great Elvis Presley Family Foundation, which used to give huge donations to Memphis charities. In the last few years, the foundation has dwindled down from its prior status. Read my stories here from 2017 and 2018.
Viva Elvis! And “Elvis”!