EXCLUSIVE: In the wake of the great response from Jennifer Hudson’s performance of Aretha Franklin’s “Young, Gifted & Black” on the BET Awards and the 60-second trailer that followed, MGM/United Artists Releasing is now going wide with its biopic about the legendary performer on January 15, 2021, MLK weekend. The all-in move shows how much confidence they have in the film’s commercial potential.
Previously, the studio was planning to platform the movie, with a limited Christmas Day debut, an expansion January 8 and full-on wide release January 15. Also, having an extension to the Oscar-qualifying period (to the end of February) helps. It will be interesting to see how many more studios follow this model, versus the typical Thanksgiving-Christmas crunch for awards-pedigree films.
Respect is directed by Liesl Tommy and stars Dreamgirls Oscar winner Hudson as Franklin, Forest Whitaker as C.L. Franklin, Marlon Wayans as Ted White, Mary J. Blige as Dinah Washington, and Tituss Burgess as Rev. Dr. James Cleveland.
Current wide entries on the MLK 2021 release schedule include New Line’s Mortal Kombat, Universal’s Simon Kinberg-directed thriller 355, and Sony’s Peter Rabbit 2.
Check out Hudson’s performance of “Young, Gifted & Black” below at the BET Awards: