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Sundance: Oscilloscope Buys Elvis Presley Documentary ‘The King’

In one of the first deals at the Sundance Film Festival, Oscilloscope has acquired North American rights to Eugene Jarecki’s “The King” ahead of its festival screening on Jan. 25.

Oscilloscope announced the deal Wednesday, a day before the opening of the festival. Executive producer Steven Soderbergh will join Jarecki in Park City, Utah, to discuss the film at the showing.

Oscilloscope will release “The King” later this year. An early version of the film premiered as an official selection at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival with the title “Promised Land.”

Jarecki’s film is a road tour of America in a 1963 Rolls Royce that was originally owned by Elvis Presley with stops in cities that played major roles in Presley’s life including Tupelo, Memphis, New York, and Las Vegas. The footage includes interviews with Alec Baldwin, Rosanne Cash, Chuck D, Emmylou Harris, Ethan Hawke, Van Jones, Mike Myers, Dan Rather, John Hiatt, Lana Del Rey, and Ashton Kutcher.

“With his singular cinematic brilliance, Jarecki weaves an urgent portrait of a nation in crisis with a metaphoric connection between Elvis and America,” David Courier, senior programmer at the festival, said. “For just as a country boy lost his authenticity and became a king, so too his country lost her democracy and became an empire. One died on the toilet; the other now faces an uncertain future under the closest thing she’s ever come to a monarch.”

Jarecki won the Sundance Grand Jury prizes for his 2005 documentary “Why We Fight” and for his 2012 drug-war film “The House I Live In.”

“We are thrilled to be working with Oscilloscope,” Jarecki said. “This is a time for real soul-searching in America. We’ve got to change the national conversation from the noise of the Trump news cycle to something deeper about who we are. For this, the film needs an innovative, athletic, and breakout release. We can’t imagine a better partner than Oscilloscope to make that happen.”

The film was produced by Christopher St. John and David Kuhn in association with NDR/BR/Backup. It will premiere on the PBS series Independent Lens as part of the 2018-2019 season. The deal was negotiated by UTA Independent Film Group on behalf of the filmmakers. The news was first reported by Deadline Hollywood.

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