Deluxe Edition Of 'This Is Elvis' Looks Doubtful

By Commercial Appeal / Bob MehrDec 17, 2006
One project that may not be making its way to DVD -- at least in the lavish form that had been expected -- is Solt and Malcolm Leo's 1981 Presley documentary 'This Is Elvis'. The film, a combination of archival news and performance footage as well as dramatic re-creations, was released in a now out-of-print VHS edition in 1982. That version was different than what was seen in theaters and on television, as the producers could not get clearance to include Are You Lonesome Tonight on the video, thus robbing the film of its denouement, a scene of an aging, addled Presley struggling his way through the song's spoken-word recitation. With that rights issue cleared, Solt and Leo also decided that the new DVD version would revamp the documentary's narrative by losing the majority of the re-creation scenes -- featuring a handful of actors playing Presley throughout his life. In August, British music magazine MOJO reported that a deluxe edition of 'This Is Elvis' -- featuring both the original theatrical version and a new director's cut of the film plus bonus material -- would be released by Warner Bros in August 2007, to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Presley's death. But Solt and project partner Malcolm Leo now say the deluxe DVD plans have been tabled by Warner Bros, and they're uncertain in what, if any, form the disc will come out next year. "There was a great deal of planning, and initially the cooperation from Warner Bros was terrific," says Leo. "And then we got into an assessment of how and when was the best time to do it -- obviously with the thirtieth anniversary of Elvis' death coming up, an opportunity was there. But then suddenly certain cost issues came into play." According to Solt, Warner's current policy on all new, expanded DVD projects is to simultaneously ready a high-definition version of the film in order to meet with that technology when it becomes more prominent in the next couple years. "Unfortunately, 'This Is Elvis' is a patchwork of a thousand sources, so to go back to every one of them and high-def them is a very, very expensive process," he says. "The studio typically sees things in terms of a normal 35 millimeter feature film, but our film is not that -- it's a patchwork quilt. Unfortunately, as much as they understood that, they still wanted to upgrade to a level that was going to be cost-prohibitive and which has ultimately doomed the project for now." A similar patchwork documentary, 'The Who's The Kids Are Alright', was released to much acclaim in an expanded edition in 2003, and Solt had hoped to do the same for 'This Is Elvis', utilizing the digital clean-up process brought to bear on the Sullivan DVDs. "We had ways of doing a beautiful new version that would've cost a third of what they were suggesting, and that's what we wanted to do," he says. "But they won't go forward unless they can spend the big bucks, and they can't afford to spend the big bucks, so there goes the project for right now." Another part of what doomed the expanded 'This Is Elvis' may have been internal financial issues with Warner Bros. "The truth is they've had a rough year at Warners -- they've had so many budget cuts," says Solt. "I hate to say it, but I think we got caught up in that." Leo's other pending Warner Bros. project -- a DVD of the unseen screen tests for 'Gone with the Wind' -- is also in limbo, likely for the same reasons. Warner Bros. would not comment specifically about 'This Is Elvis'. But Warner Home Video representative Ronnie Sass did note that the company "plans on fully honoring Elvis in this coming 30th anniversary year. With Warner Bros. owning 17 Elvis films -- more than any other studio -- you can imagine we'll be offering consumers some pretty wonderful choices." In all likelihood, Warner's 30th anniversary Presley DVD rollout will include a bare-bones release of 'This Is Elvis', while a deluxe edition may yet come out down the line. "I have every reason to think that version will exist ultimately," says Leo. "Of course, just when that will happen is hard to say."
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mature_elvis_fan75 (profilecontact) wrote on Jan 2, 2007report abuse
I just hope to get the original version on dvd as i hate vhs tapes,and also id really like a cd version of the soundtrack,as my cassette tape of 10 years now shows its age,i dont expect a updated version with extras of this is elvos on dvd,but hope my other 2 wishes come to light!
boris (profilecontact) wrote on Jan 1, 2007report abuse
I saw an alternate version of This Is Elvis on TCM a few years ago. It was neither the original nor the long version edited in video and the quality was quite higher so I thought this is what they will release on DVD but it didn't happen. Does anyone know about it?
Rob Nelson (profilecontact) wrote on Dec 27, 2006report abuse
I agree with all the comments posted. Well, for what it is worth stating here; the "big bucks" will prove to be a worthwhile investment. Elvis has a proven track record in recent years, right? Aloha From Hawaii and The '68 Comeback (re-mastered deluxe sets) re-entered the sales charts once again over the Christmas period. We all have said this before - Elvis' name is like printing a licence to make money. And yes, I enjoyed This Is Elvis in the theatre so much that I saw it twice. The original 2LP set charted in 1982 and I agree time to remaster it too.
Janus (profilecontact) wrote on Dec 23, 2006report abuse
Yes i also agree with george(GK) relaese those films and On tour because the fans deserves it!! A hole lotta firm's earned and still earns money because of Elvis. Why can,t we just simply enjoy our man on DVD (with bonus!!). Come'n man it is 2006!! Give it to the fans !!
Iron Man (profilecontact) wrote on Dec 21, 2006report abuse
I’m with George on this. Dont get me wrong, but the absence of films featuring Elvis (and there are six still unreleased officially on DVD) + Elvis On Tour upsets me much more. And I would love to have it with or without bonus material. I can’t figure who owns the rights for the still unreleased movies featuring Elvis. Wouldn’t it be a nice idea to make a kind of petition for them to be released! I mean, this is a question of priority, and the Presley movies are of higher to me.
bhp elvis (profilecontact) wrote on Dec 21, 2006report abuse
sad this is happening because this is one of the best documentaries on Elvis
GEORGE (GK) (profilecontact) wrote on Dec 20, 2006report abuse
Elvis makes money for every company, from RCA-BMG to Postal Stamps to TV Guide. If these film companies would give Elvis, the respect he and his fans, deserve and eelease these films on DVD, with extras and lost footage, and promote them well. They would make a profit !!! Why is it, the "Elvis Projects" never get done ?? The Fans want "This is Elvis" "Elvis On Tour" "Live a little, Love a Little" and "Charro"and other films on DVD remastered and released soon !!!!
Ton Bruins (profilecontact) wrote on Dec 19, 2006report abuse
Can somebody tell me why I am not surprised by this statement ? .......
elvis-finland (profilecontact) wrote on Dec 18, 2006report abuse
MGM and Warner are pretty much same company today.
DJB (profilecontact) wrote on Dec 18, 2006report abuse
Looks like Warner won't touch "On Tour" - pretty hard when it was filmed & owned by MGM! (good one)
DJB (profilecontact) wrote on Dec 18, 2006report abuse
Ah well! if worse comes to worst, I see no reason why "On Tour" shouldn't be the ideal alternative for its due upgrade should Warner come good on its '07 promise of "fully honouring Elvis"
SPK (profilecontact) wrote on Dec 18, 2006report abuse
Hope it still happens as the fans deserve it and Please Warner Bros., release the six missing Elvis DVD's for the anniversary! Thanks!
JimmyCool (profilecontact) wrote on Dec 17, 2006report abuse
That's a very sad news for me! I was saving money to buy the DVD version of This is Elvis :( At least I hope they release the Theatrical version, 'cause I like a lot... In 1997 I saw This Is Elvis on Cinemax and it was the Theatrical version. I liked it soooo much that next time I saw it I taped it and that's the only version I have on VHS. A friend of mine sent me a VHS version of the movie (in DVD format), but they were too many scenes missing on this version. And the soundtrack is awesome! I have it on an original RCA cassette and the overdubbed live songs are superb! Plus many alternates and much more!
It really deserves a CD release!
colnago (profilecontact) wrote on Dec 17, 2006report abuse
I agree.What a shame.I love This Is Elvis.An upgraded version would have been awesome.Lets at least hope they bring out the original version on DVD.Also the soundtrack would be great on CD.If I remember rightly there are nice versions of Suspicious Minds and Always On My Mind on the soundtrack.
elvis-finland (profilecontact) wrote on Dec 17, 2006report abuse
Elvis made so awful lot of money to Warner Brothers in his movie career that is more than reasonable to release this and all the other Elvis productions of WB in DVD.
mature_elvis_fan75 (profilecontact) wrote on Dec 17, 2006report abuse
Not a surprise to me,guess we still have those other documentarys to see,you know the ones that run about 30 minutes and start with ,he was born in tupelo(sarcasim) i also never understood why rca didnt release the soundtrack on cd, i love the soundtrack,great mix of interviews, live performances etc,but i guess that would be too cool of an idea,just keep pumping out those compilations,i dont expect to see this is elvis on dvd in any format, and there the ones who shot thereself in the foot by putting ttwii on tv before it was released,that is all for now!

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