Digital Elvis planned for projects

Digital Domain in deal to create likenesses of Presley

Get ready for the return of the King.

Core Media Group and Digital Domain have inked an exclusive deal to create a series of virtual Elvis Presley likenesses for “a range of entertainment projects” including live shows, film and TV, worldwide.

Move follows the successful use of Tupac Shakur’s likeness in Dr. Dre’s show at the Coachella Valley Music Fest. The virtual Tupac was also created by DD, but a digital Elvis has a much wider potential audience and many more potential applications.

Jack Soden, CEO of Elvis Presley Enterprises, said the agreement turns Digital Domain loose to develop likenesses of any and all of the Elvises: “Elvis of the ’50s, Elvis of the ’60s, Elvis of the ’70s,” he said. “Right now there are endless possibilities.”

Early development on the digital Elvis likenesses is already under way at DD. Ed Ulbrich, chief creative officer, said the only timetable for finishing is “when we get it right.” “There’s no tolerable margin of error,” he added.

Digital Domain won the Oscar for its vfx on “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” which included a digitally wizened Brad Pitt. Its digitally youthened Jeff Bridges in “Tron: Legacy” was not as well received. Ulbrich said of “Tron,” “That was very much an aesthetic choice. It wasn’t an accident.”

Soden said there’s particular interest in using the virtual Elvises to reintroduce Presley to younger auds. There is already an “Elvis in Concert” show that tours every few years, with a live orchestra and backup singers accompanying Presley’s projected image. “This takes it to a whole new level,” said Soden.

Core, officially launched last month, is the new monicker for the former CKX, which was acquired by Apollo Global Management in 2011. Apollo manages brands including Muhammad Ali and “American Idol.” Elvis Presley Enterprises, which runs Graceland and licenses the Elvis brand and image, is a division of Core.

Soden added that he does not expect the virtual Elvises to have much effect on the industry surrounding Elvis impersonators, or, as they prefer to be known, Elvis tribute artists. Elvis Presley Enterprises organizes an annual tribute artist competition, and Soden said, “I don’t believe tribute artists are going to feel threatened by a digital Elvis, any more than they are threatened by the Elvis we have on film and tape.”