Toronto: Aretha Franklin Amends Lawsuit After Secret ‘Amazing Grace’ Screening

Aretha Franklin has filed an amended complaint in Colorado federal court, seeking to bar producer Alan Elliott from showing the documentary “Amazing Grace,” after reports that he held a Toronto screening for film executives.

Franklin is seeking a declaratory judgment from U.S. District Court in Denver that Elliott must obtain permission from her prior to any public screening or commercial use of the movie or the 1972 concert footage upon which it is based.

The filing cites a Variety report that Elliott was holding a screening in Toronto on Saturday for film executives and others. “This screening was done without Ms. Franklin’s permission or knowledge, and was contrary to Mr. Elliott’s counsel’s specific recommendations,” her complaint states. Her complaint claims that Elliott’s attorney agreed via email that he would not show the film publicly.

A federal judge in Colorado granted Franklin a temporary restraining order earlier this month, concluding that she was likely to succeed in her claim that her permission was required before the movie could be shown at the Telluride Film Festival. The screening there was canceled, as was a public screening in Toronto and other festivals. Franklin cites a quitclaim agreement attached to the concert footage that states authorization from her is required.

She also is seeking an injunction barring any public “showing, screening, releasing or otherwise distributing footage” of the film.

The complaint seeks jurisdiction in Colorado by noting that Elliott traveled to Colorado for the planned screening at Telluride, and claiming that he “was attempting to generate interest in a distribution deal for the film” while he was there. It also claims that his agents from WME were doing the same.

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