The late “Queen of Soul,” Aretha Franklin is celebrated and remembered as the acclaimed film “Amazing Grace” opens wide in theaters on Friday, April 19, 2019.
Distributed by NEON, this riveting concert film of the live recording of Franklin’s 1972 Grammy-winning gospel double album, “Amazing Grace” opened April 5 at four theaters in New York City (Lincoln Square 13, Angelika Film Center, E-Walk 13, and City Cinemas 1, 2, 3) and Los Angeles (Arclight Hollywood, Baldwin Hills Crenshaw Plaza 15, AMC Burbank 16, Landmark 12).
Today, the film expands to theaters in Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Portland, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, and Washington, D.C. “Amazing Grace” is a portrait of an artistic genius at the height of her powers, and yet it almost remained in obscurity.
The footage was originally shot in 1972 by Oscar-winning director Sydney Pollack, but technical issues caused the project to be shelved for nearly 50 years. The triumphant roll-out of this long-buried treasure is the culmination of years of painstaking work by producer Alan Elliott, who was determined to piece it together into a whole project over many years. He had been in negotiations to release the film up until Franklin’s passing in August 2018; with her family’s blessing, and the help of a team of dedicated producers, “Amazing Grace” is now being seen and enjoyed by fans across the country.
The roll out for “Amazing Grace” continued after official film premieres in New York City on April 3, Nashville on April 9, and in Chicago on April 10 as the opening night feature at the 2019 Ebertfest, named in honor of the late film critic Roger Ebert. “Amazing Grace” was honored on March 27 with the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Documentary (Film) at the 50th annual ceremonies, and has already been screened by black churches and cultural organizations across the country. It premiered on Franklin’s birthday, March 25, at the Detroit Institute of the Arts, and screened March 27 at the Regal Atlanta Station in Atlanta; March 28 at the Equal Justice Initiative Museum in Montgomery, Alabama; March 29 at Brenden Palms Theatre in Las Vegas during the Stellar Awards weekend; and March 30 at the National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington, D.C.
On March 31, the film had its Los Angeles premiere at the New Temple Baptist Missionary Baptist Church in South Los Angeles, the same location where Franklin originally recorded her jaw-dropping performances 46 years ago. According to numerous published reports, plans are afoot by the city to designate the church as a historic landmark and have the area commemorated in Franklin’s name. In related news, Ms. Franklin was celebrated as the first recipient and namesake of The Aretha Franklin ICON Award at the 34th Annual Stellar Awards, which will air during Easter Weekend on the BET Network.
This prestigious honor will now be presented annually – in perpetuity – to a deserving gospel artist. The presentation to Franklin’s family featured tribute performances of music from Franklin’s history-making “Amazing Grace”album by Regina Belle, Kelly Price and Erica Campbell.
To further celebrate the musical legacy of Ms. Franklin and her record-breaking gospel recording, Rhino Records recently released Amazing Grace: The Complete Recordings on vinyl for the very first time. Made available in time for Aretha’s birthday on March 22, this double-LP version was expanded and remastered in 1999 to include the full recordings from both nights at the New Temple Baptist Missionary Baptist Church. On its initial release, the album sold more than two million copies, earned a Grammy Award, and is still the biggest-selling live gospel album of all time and Franklin’s best-selling recording to date