Saying she was “overwhelmed” with emotion from portraying the Queen of Soul, Jennifer Hudson announced Saturday that she just wrapped production on Aretha Franklin biopic Respect.
“It is officially a wrap on @respectmovie wrap it up, it's done!” Hudson shared on Instagram. “Too overwhelmed to get into it right now but words can't express how grateful I am to be chosen by the queen herself and to live out yet another dream! It was my honor, to honor the Queen's request! The one and only Queen of Soul.”
Franklin died of pancreatic cancer at age 76 in August 2018. During her prolific career, she received 18 Grammy Awards and was nominated a total of 44 times.
In April 2019, Franklin made history as the first individual woman to receive a special Pulitzer citation award. A press release stated that she was selected for the posthumous honor “for her indelible contribution to American music and culture for more than five decades.” Past winners include Bob Dylan, Hank Williams and John Coltrane.
As Hudson noted in her post, she was handpicked by Franklin for the role. In 2018, she sang “Amazing Grace” at Franklin's funeral.
Respect not to be confused with Nat Geo's upcoming Genius: Aretha series starring Cynthia Erivo follows Franklin's life from singing in her father's church, to becoming one of the most iconic figures in the music industry.
Joining Hudson in the cast are Forest Whitaker, Marlon Wayans, Audra McDonald, Marc Maron, Tituss Burgess, Saycon Sengbloh, Hailey Kilgore, Tate Donovan, Heather Headley, Skye Dakota Turner, and Mary J. Blige.
The biopic is directed by Liesl Tommy from a script written by Tracey Scott Wilson. MGM is set to release Respect in theaters on October 9, 2020.
Finally, a piece of release date news that’s not a depressing coronavirus-related delay. MGM is pushing the release date of the Aretha Franklin biopic Respect, which stars Jennifer Hudson as the powerful-voiced singer, for Christmas Day, with the intention of propping it up as an awards season contender. The film was originally set to arrive in October.
Deadline reports that the “mind-blowing” dailies of Jennifer Hudson’s performance as Aretha Franklin in the upcoming biopic Respect have inspired MGM to move the film off its October 9 release date for a limited Christmas Day premiere. An expansion will follow on January 8, 2021, followed by a wide release on January 15, which is Martin Luther King Jr. weekend.
A Christmas release makes for prime awards season fare, with films like 1917 and Little Women garnering plenty of buzz during the holidays last year. While the fall is generally where awards season starts, crowd-pleasing films with awards potential are generally given the coveted holiday spot, like 2016’s Hidden Figures. It’s possible that MGM sees a prestigious crowdpleaser on their hands with Respect, with Hudson likely to earn another Oscar nod with her performance. Already the film has built buzz with a sparse teaser that showed only Hudson in a classic Aretha dress, belting out the chorus of her most famous song, “Respect.”
Respect, which is directed by Liesl Tommy and also stars Forest Whitaker as C.L. Franklin, Marlon Wayans as Ted White, Mary J. Blige as Dinah Washington, and Tituss Burgess as Rev. Dr. James Cleveland, is the only exclusive release on December 25 next to 20th Century Studios’ limited opening of The Duel which may move anyway since production has been halted due to the coronavirus pandemic. MGM has been ahead of many studios with its shuffling of its release schedule, announcing a November release of the highly anticipated Bond flick No Time to Die early on during the coronavirus outbreak, while many major releases have been postponed indefinitely.