Buyers who attended a private screening of the Aretha Franklin documentary “Amazing Grace” on Saturday were told that the litigation between its producers and the legendary artist could soon by resolved, opening the field to a heated bidding war at the Toronto Film Festival, Variety has learned.
There are now several offers for the project, but “Amazing Grace” can only close a deal once terms have been reached with Franklin — a potentially thorny proposition, given that the singer amended her lawsuit to bar producer Alan Elliott from showing the documentary following the secret screening.
“Amazing Grace” was scheduled to screen at both Telluride and Toronto until a lawsuit filed by Franklin blocked it premiere. A federal judge in Denver ruled last week that the concert footage of the singer shot by Sydney Pollack in 1972 couldn’t be shown without Franklin’s consent, forcing the filmmakers to yank it from Telluride, Toronto and the upcoming Chicago Film Festival.
Even so, the producers of “Amazing Grace” held a private screening for buyers in Toronto on Saturday in a theater away from festival venues. Reaction to the film was generally positive, although some who attended questioned its commercial appeal, saying that the only footage is primarily of Franklin onstage, and there are no behind-the-scenes interviews with the singer. The movie will appeal to Franklin’s fans as a time capsule of the star.
Franklin’s lawyer didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. WME is handling sales of the project.