HOLLYWOOD — Having wrapped their deal with the Beatles, Cirque du Soleil has moved on to another rock ‘n’ roll icon, Elvis Presley.
The Presley camp, now owned by Robert F.X. Sillerman, has entered a 50-50 pact with Cirque, granting rights to the King’s music, likeness and memorabilia to create three differently styled shows beginning in 2008. One will be a touring show designed to play arenas such as L.A.’s Staples Center and New York’s Madison Square Garden. Second will be a fixed-location show that will tour from town to town and, lastly, a multimedia event featuring memorabilia of the King.
Sillerman immediately shuts down the comparison of the memorabilia show, called “Elvis Experience,” to a museum. “This show will be to a museum what an iPod is to a book,” he notes.
Shows, which were decided upon after nine months of discussions, will incorporate the name, image, likeness and music of Presley and will launch in Europe or Asia or both in 2008.
A year later, U.S. runs will begin. Between 2009 and 2015, Cirque and EPE will launch a Presley show annually; beginning in 2014, at least one Elvis Presley Project will be opened every two years until 2021.
“Elvis Experience,” which launches in ’08, will have no live performers.
“There could be two or maybe three troupes traveling the globe,” says Sillerman, chairman-CEO of CKX, which owns 80% of Elvis Presley Enterprises. He sees no reason why the arena show wouldn’t be able to tour 12 months a year; it could take two years for one show to hit all of Europe and Asia, he adds.
For now, though, Las Vegas is out. “The rest of the world is so appealing,” Sillerman says, noting that Presley’s only non-U.S. shows were in Canada. “We can’t find any jurisdiction that doesn’t have an appetite for Elvis. By not touring outside the U.S., there are no real experiences (for fans). He’s larger than life.”
No budget has been set for any of the shows nor the entire operation. Shows will be wall-to-wall Presley music, and all artistic decisions will be made by the creatives working for Cirque CEO Guy Laliberte.
Sillerman says the shows will celebrate Presley rather than tell a story accompanied by Elvis tunes. That helps keep the cost down.
“Elvis had a style all his own. Oftentimes, the most expensive part of a show is in the front end, finding characters and a style,” he says. “That’s an expense we don’t have.”