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Gail Berman on “Elvis’s” Box Office Success, Oscar Prospects, and Austin Butler

Producer Gail Berman rushed for her phone after Warner Bros. executives approved the controversial choice to use a little-known actor to portray the hip-swinging rocker in their $90 million biopic about Elvis Presley.

She wanted to capture the moment forever for Austin Butler, who reportedly outperformed actors like Ansel Elgort and Miles Teller to get the kind of job that can launch a career.

According to Berman, “I needed to shoot a picture of all these individuals sitting around after they made a decision that was going to significantly alter Austin’s life.”

It was amazing that they recognized how talented he was from his screen test and that they were willing to help him along the way.

Butler proved to be a wise investment for the studio. The young actor has received praise for his performance in “Elvis,” which traces Presley’s rise to fame as well as his battles with addiction and other issues.

Additionally, the movie has grown into an unexpected box office titan.

Elvis has made about $150 million domestically and more than $276 million globally, which is an astounding sum for a movie without any superheroes despite its June launch during the height of the popcorn season.

In addition, filmmaker Baz Luhrmann, the Australian visionary behind “Moulin Rouge!” and “Romeo + Juliet,” who added his signature flare and sparkle to the proceedings, and actor Tom Hanks, who plays Presley’s sleazy manager, Col. Tom Parker, deserve praise, according to Berman.

There was a lot of excitement about Austin as a new star since “people love Tom,” according to Berman. Several factors combined to push this over the top and become Baz’s #1 domestic film since everyone was so eager to return to the theatres and watch something that had received positive reviews.

Yes, you read that right. “Elvis” has already surpassed the box office earnings of both “The Great Gatsby” and “Moulin Rouge,” which both starred none other than Leonardo DiCaprio. According to Berman, Luhrmann’s history of developing pop-influenced storylines aided in economic growth.


According to Berman, “branded entertainment” is more than just superheroes. A brand is a director. Adult audiences are drawn to the Baz Luhrmann trademark. They are familiar with “Gatsby,” “Moulin Rouge,” and “Strictly Ballroom,” which many of them recall and adore. One of the rare filmmakers with that kind of audience connection is Baz.

The popularity of “Elvis” and Sony’s adaptation of the book “Where the Crawdads Sing,” another financially successful adult drama that debuted this summer, demonstrates that older audiences, who were previously dismissed during the pandemic, haven’t given up on going to the movies.

After holding senior positions at Fox Broadcasting and Paramount, Berman co-founded The Jackal Group. “I’ve done a lot of pictures for young people, and I’ve done a lot of films for elderly people,” he says. “If there’s something of quality for them to see, people will come.”

Patience helped “Elvis” as well. After COVID, companies drastically reduced the amount of time that films were only shown in theatres. Between 17 and 45 days after their theatrical debuts, the majority of studios release their films on demand. An exclusive theatrical run of more than 60 days was given to “Elvis.”

We had a longer window, which helped the movie gain popularity, people appreciate the reviews and word-of-mouth spread. It was permitted to gestate.

Additionally, it made the movie accessible to younger audiences. The earliest ticket purchasers, according to Berman, were older and had grown up with Presley’s songs. A new group of admirers opted to see the movie as the weeks passed.

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Even though Luhrmann is a well-liked director, he has only ever received one Oscar nomination, and that was for creating “Moulin Rouge”! Will “Elvis” be his last chance to be nominated for best director?

According to Berman, the director did a fantastic job with this movie. “I’d really like to see that honoured.”

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