UPDATE: Elvis soared past Top Gun for opening weekend to take the #1 spot as well as making over $31M.
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Get ready to dig out your blue suede shoes. The new Elvis biopic officially hit theaters in Memphis and nationwide Friday.
Inside the Guest House at Graceland, Elvis has entered the building and walks the red carpet. It’s really breakout star Austin Butler stepping into Elvis’ blue suede shoes as the King of Rock and Roll ‘and’ Tom Hanks taking on the role as Colonel Tom Parker.
Before the debut, we went to Graceland to talk with stars Tom Hanks, Austin Butler, and the family of Elvis Presley about the making of this larger-than-life movie.
“He knew Elvis and he knew Memphis well…didn’t he? Colonel Tom Parker was a carney, pure and simple,” Tom Hanks said.
“It means the world to me because we worked so hard on this film. It’s been a part of my life for almost three years,” Austin Butler said about starring as the King.
Film director Baz Luhrmann chronicles Elvis’ meteoric rise to fame and the people in his life such as his former wife, Priscilla Presley, and his close friend Jerry Schilling.
“I was a little nervous at first, knowing where it’s going to go, but it was given our full stamp of approval,” Priscilla Presley said.
“It means [a lot] to me personally; it means my life. It’s where I grew up. It’s where I met my best friends and where I have all my friends now,” Jerry Schilling said.
The film shows how Colonel Parker guided Elvis to stardom.
“He was a genius and he understood that Elvis was such a one-of-a-kind artist that comes along once every century,” Hanks said.
The film also examines how The Colonel exploited and manipulated Elvis until his death in 1977.
“I don’t think you can fault the Colonel for not representing a one-of-a-kind artist for those 12 years in a way that didn’t live up to the true promise of Elvis Presley. Now should he have played Vegas for five years? Well, maybe not,” Hanks said.
The film addresses the influence black culture had on Elvis from B.B. King to the black church.
“I’m so proud of the heritage of Memphis and this film really pulls out the Delta,” Schilling said.
What does the Presley family really think about Austin Butler as Elvis?
“I mean Austin Butler…it’s taken all of us as a family by surprise. He is perfection as Elvis Presley,” Priscilla said.
“Now that Lisa Marie and Priscilla feel the way that they do, it’s relieved a lot of the intense pressure that I felt,” Butler said.
The film also explores Elvis’ complicated relationship with the Colonel.
“I have great affection for him [The Colonel]. I have almost as much affection as Priscilla and Jerry Schilling have. They say he was a lovely man and sorry he is gone and they’re talking about the Colonel. So, that’s unique,” Hanks said.
Elvis is a unique and once-in-a-lifetime entertainer with a movie fit for a king.
“I would have to say, and Alex, you know I’ve worked on a lot of projects. This is the ultimate. A total thumbs up,” Schilling said.