Neon has acquired North American rights to Amazing Grace, the Aretha Franklin concert film that has taken 45 years to get to a big screen. The 1972 concert documentary, shot by Sydney Pollack, chronicles Franklin’s famed performance with the choir at the New Bethel Baptist Church in Watts when she was 29, which became the genesis of the biggest-selling gospel album of all time. It has been mired in legal technicalities ever since.
The pic finally had its world premiere at DOC NYC and then screened at AFI Fest as part of an Oscar-qualifying run that began last month in L.A. It continues that run beginning today in New York at the Film Forum. Neon is now planning an early 2019 theatrical release.
Alan Elliott produced alongside Joe Boyd, Chiemi Karasawa, Rob Johnson, Sabrina Owens, Tirrell D. Whittley, Jerry Wexler and Joseph Woolf.
“Amazing Grace is the heart and soul of Aretha Franklin,” said Sabrina Owens, Franklin’s niece and representative of the Aretha Franklin Estate. “This film is authentic and is my aunt to her core. Our family couldn’t be more excited for audiences to experience the genius of her work and spirit through this film.”
Franklin died August 16 at age 76.
The deal was negotiated by Neon and Endeavor Content on behalf of filmmakers. The pic joins an awards-season slate at Neon that includes the Natalie Portman-starrer Vox Lux which bows today and he $13 million-grossing docu Three Identical Strangers.