Coming to theatres today, Friday, December 4: ORION: THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING
Jeanie Finlay’s stranger-than-fiction story of a would-be resurrected pop star made its bow at Tribeca this Spring. Its festival circuit also included Hot Docs, Nashville, Bentonville, Doxa, Sheffield, Martha’s Vineyard, DOCS DF, Tallgrass, Indie Memphis, and Barcelona’s In-Edit, among others. In addition to a limited theatrical release, Sundance Selects releases the doc on VOD via cable platforms as well as iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, YouTube, Sony Playstation, Xbox, and Sundance Now.
Small town Alabama boy Jimmy Ellis had aspirations for a singing career but despite his good looks and soulful voice, he couldn’t get a break – not until Elvis Presley died in 1977, that is. Inspired by a recently-published novel which played on the premise that an acclaimed musician faked his own death, Shelby Singleton, the president of Sun Records, Presley’s former label, recruited Elvis’ lookalike and soundalike Ellis to become “Orion.” Decked out in Elvis-like outfits and sporting a mask, Orion aimed to capitalize on fan theories that Elvis was still alive. Contractually obligated to wear the mask and to remain elusive about his true identity, the fame-hungry Ellis began what proved to be a frustrating career living in the shadow of a dead man. Finlay assembles the strange, and sometimes poignant, story with a generous use of archival performances and interviews, demonstrating the paradoxical cost of giving up one’s identity in the elusive pursuit of fame.