Two heroes rise from the ashes of Elvis On Tour: 75th Anniversary Celebration

In the end, two men saved Elvis On Tour: 75th Anniversary Celebration. One hero was who you might expect, while the other was quite unlikely.

By the time I arrived at the movie theater this evening, I was finally excited about Elvis On Tour again. I managed to get my favorite seat – top row, middle – and was ready to enjoy some Elvis.

On screen before the presentation were Elvis trivia tidbits. One card noted, for example, that Elvis On Tour recouped its production cost after three days of its 1972 theatrical release.

When the main features started, the fairly large cinema was full. Up first were the expected commercials: Visit Graceland, go to Elvis Week, see the Viva Elvis production in Vegas, take an Elvis cruise, and, oh yeah, listen to the Elvis 75 4-CD set. A commercial for the Viva Elvis album was surprisingly well assembled and featured “Also Sprach Zarathustra.”

Finally, a behind-the-scenes documentary for Elvis On Tour began. It featured contemporary interviews with Priscilla Presley, Jerry Schilling, and others. It was the kind of interesting “making of” documentary I’ve become accustomed to watching on Blu-rays and DVDs that don’t feature Elvis.

Since Elvis On Tour is an Elvis movie, though, this kind of special feature material will of course not be included in Tuesday’s release. It’s a shame, too, because the documentary was actually quite good. Oddly enough, Tuesday’s DVD and Blu-ray release of Elvis On Tour was one of the few products not advertised tonight. How could they overlook that opportunity? Wasn’t that the whole point of tonight? There was, however, one last plug to remind you to visit Graceland.

Elvis On Tour: 75th Anniversary Celebration hit theaters on July 29, 2010

Elvis On Tour: 75th Anniversary Celebration hit theaters on July 29, 2010

Once the behind-the-scenes documentary and commercials ended – with none of the previously unreleased Elvis footage that has been advertised for weeks – the actual movie began. The lead-off song was, indeed, “Don’t Be Cruel” rather than “Johnny B. Goode.” Bad editing and all. What an amateurish way to start the movie.

The audience here was mostly quiet at first until . . .

. . . the elderly man talking about the freight elevator came on screen!

I’m not kidding! The audience instantly began to roar with laughter as he described in monotone how Elvis would come through one door, then another, and take a freight elevator.

I found myself laughing, too, but I couldn’t believe the reaction at first – then I realized . . . these people have been suffering through this scene for just as long – or longer – than I have. For years, we Elvis fans have been watching this man. I never thought I’d say this, but I’m glad they didn’t cut him out. There’s something comforting about knowing he’s still there to show us how it all works.

From that point on, the atmosphere was charged – there was a lot more applause, singing along, and overall excitement in the crowd. It began to feel almost like I was at a real concert. Almost like Elvis was there.

You see, despite the many mistakes that Warner Home Video and Elvis Presley Enterprises have made over the years, Elvis always wins in the end. These people may not deserve to have Elvis as a “client,” yet he saves them every time.

Would I have gone to the theater tonight if there was no promise of previously unreleased footage? Of course, and I’d be willing to bet everyone else would have, too. My anger comes not from the lack of footage, but from the lack of respect for fans.

I was pretty sure the “never-before-seen Elvis tour scenes” thing would turn out to be false. I was really hoping I was wrong. You didn’t have to mislead us, Warner Home Video, Elvis Presley Enterprises, and Fathom Events. We would’ve been there anyway. Don’t you get it?

There is no excuse.

* * *

Elvis On Tour Countdown: 5 days until Elvis On Tour (2010 Cruel Edit) Blu-ray and DVD releases

* * *

For more information (official sites):

Selected posts about Elvis On Tour from The Mystery Train:

* * *

Original image courtesy of Goodman Media International, Inc. Used with permission.

“Never-before-seen Elvis tour scenes” — as long as you’ve never seen Elvis On Tour

I have a question for those behind Warner Home Video, Elvis Presley Enterprises, and Fathom Events: Where exactly was the “never-before-seen Elvis tour footage” you have been advertising for the July 29 showing of Elvis On Tour: 75th Anniversary Celebration?

I wonder what the excuse will be this time?

Anyway, I’ll have a review of the theatrical event, which featured the 2010 “Cruel Edit” of Elvis On Tour, coming in an hour or two. . . . Stick around for the fun.

Elvis On Tour tonight

The legendary Elvis Presley returns to the big screen tonight as Elvis On Tour: 75th Anniversary Celebration debuts in a special presentation at theaters across the United States.

Presented by Warner Home Video, Elvis Presley Enterprises, and Fathom, the event features the newly restored for high definition Elvis On Tour, a special message to fans from Elvis’ ex-wife, and what promoters bill as “never-before-seen” footage of Elvis.

Warner Brothers confirmed earlier this week that Tuesday’s DVD and Blu-ray releases of Elvis On Tour will actually contain a slightly modified edition of the film. A live version of “Don’t Be Cruel” replaces the “Johnny B. Goode” rehearsal that originally opened 1972’s Elvis On Tour.

It is unclear whether the “Cruel Edit” opening will also appear in tonight’s showing of the movie. In 2000, Warner Brothers’ limited release theatrical showing of a new version of Elvis-That’s The Way It Is included a live performance of “Are You Lonesome Tonight” over the closing credits. However, they were unable to obtain rights to the song for use in the 2001 DVD release, replacing it instead with footage of Elvis hosting celebrities backstage after one of the Vegas shows.

We’ll find out soon enough if the Cruel Edit extends to the theatrical presentation or only applies to the home releases. For those of you able to make it, have fun at the show tonight!

* * *

I have to admit that Warner’s handling of the “Johnny B. Goode” debacle has dampened most of my enthusiasm for tonight’s event and next week’s home media releases. I just can’t seem to get pumped up again. I hope that changes by the time the lion roars.

* * *

Elvis On Tour Countdown

  • Tonight: Elvis On Tour: 75th Anniversary Celebration theater event
  • 5 days until Elvis On Tour (2010 Cruel Edit) Blu-ray and DVD releases

* * *

For more information (official sites):

Selected posts about Elvis On Tour from The Mystery Train:

Johnny B. Gone: Warner Brothers confirms replacement of Elvis On Tour’s opening song

I was really hoping this would go the other way, folks, but Warner Brothers has released the following statement in response to an inquiry from a source of mine about the replacement of “Johnny B. Goode” with “Don’t Be Cruel” in the opening of Elvis On Tour.

Regarding the change on the opening song on the ‘ELVIS ON TOUR’ blu-ray and DVD release to Elvis’ ‘Don’t Be Cruel,’ after many months of effort, Warner Home Video was unfortunately not able to obtain the rights to include the song ‘Johnny B. Goode.’ Therefore, there was no choice but to change it so this amazing example of Elvis’ work could be released.  With full approval of Elvis Presley Enterprises, a song was chosen that reflects the essence of Elvis and the nature of his performances during this time. That is the only change on this new release other than the amazing clarity the video now has and the incredible sound of Elvis in concert.” –Warner Brothers statement

I still support the Elvis On Tour release, though I strongly feel this alteration should have been communicated to the fans much sooner. I’m going to save further thoughts and comments about this for my reviews of the theatrical event and Blu-ray release.

* * *

Update July 31, 2010: According to a post I later read on the FECC forum, an EPE associate also placed the above Warner Brothers statement on the Elvis Insiders forum (I’m not a member) on July 26. Three days later, ElvisMatters obtained further clarification from Warner Brothers on this situation:

ElvisMatters contacted Tom Lucas, VP Marketing manager of Warner USA, and asked for an explanation. The moment Warner decided to release a restored version for ‘Elvis On Tour’, they contacted all the composers and publishers for the songs that are included in the movie. In case of ‘Johny B Goode’, they never received any reaction from composer Chuck Berry or his publisher. Warner tried to contact them for a very long time, but never received any reply or contract. It is not the case that Warner did not want to pay enough money to include the song, they simply did not receive an offer to pay for it. Warner had two options left: forget the whole project and put it back in the vault, or release it with another intro. The fact that they choose ‘Don’t Be Cruel’ and the editing that was used on it, is food for another discussion.” –Source: ElvisMatters

Official Warner Home Video site still claims Elvis On Tour Blu-ray and DVD releases contain extra songs; no word on fate of Johnny B. Goode

Elvis On Tour Countdown: 5 days to theater event, 10 days to Blu

There still has not been any official confirmation that “Don’t Be Cruel” has replaced “Johnny B. Goode” in the classic opening credits sequence of Elvis On Tour. Of course, the flip side of that is there has also been no official confirmation that the tune remains in place.

Hoping to find information either way, I’ve been combing through the official Warner Home Video site ElvisTheMovies.com. Though there is nothing there to end the “Johnny B. Goode” controversy, I did find something else of interest.

As of July 24, 2010, with only ten days to go before the Blu-ray and DVD releases of Elvis On Tour, Warner Home Video’s description of both products still includes the following line:

Songs include ‘See See Rider,’ ‘Proud Mary,’ ‘Burning Love,’ ‘Don’t Be Cruel,’ ‘Teddy Bear,’ ‘Hound Dog,’ ‘Can’t Help Falling in Love,’ ‘Love Me Tender,’ ‘All Shook Up,’ ‘Suspicious Minds,’ ‘Heartbreak Hotel,’ ‘Are You Lonesome Tonight’ and more.” –Warner Home Video’s ElvisTheMovies.com (The Movies > Elvis On Tour), accessed on July 24, 2010

As anyone who has actually watched 1972’s Elvis On Tour can tell you, the songs “Teddy Bear,” “Hound Dog,” “All Shook Up,” “Heartbreak Hotel,” and “Are You Lonesome Tonight” are not in the original movie.

I can only draw three possible conclusions from this:

1.) Warner Home Video has altered the original movie and added these songs, OR

2.) Warner Home Video has included these songs as bonus features, OR

3.) Warner Home Video has not included these songs on the Blu-ray and DVD and, either knowingly or unknowingly, is engaged in false advertising only 10 days before the release.

Note that the quote is specifically from the descriptions for the Blu-ray and DVD releases. Though also mentioned there, this is not from the description for July 29’s Fathom Events theatrical showing, which claims to include “never-before-seen” footage.

In 10 days, we’ll know without a doubt the fate of “Johnny B. Goode” and whether Warner Home Video has been truthfully marketing its Blu-ray and DVD releases of Elvis On Tour. I’m hoping for a happy ending on both counts.

Marketing site tells fans to go “Elvis Yourself”

Another official site, this one set up to market the July 29 theatrical release, now includes a new “Elvis Yourself” feature. Over on ElvisOnTourOnTheBigScreen.com, the idea is that you insert a photo of your head in place of Elvis’ and send the result to friends to promote the Elvis On Tour: 75th Anniversary Event.

“Send to friends, and ask them to Elvis themselves too. […] For only one night, you can experience the excitement of what it was like to tour with Elvis. On Thursday July 29, 2010 in select movie theaters nationwide, see the masterpiece Elvis on Tour,” says the site.

Your Elvis photo choices are labeled as “Las Vegas,” “Hawaii,” and “Jailhouse.”

The “Hawaii” Elvis photo is from the 1961 movie Blue Hawaii, and the “Jailhouse” photo is from 1957’s Jailhouse Rock movie. Simple enough.

The “Las Vegas” photo is a famous image from the 1973 Elvis: Aloha From Hawaii TV special. Whoever labeled it obviously made the rookie error of assuming “Elvis in jumpsuit = Las Vegas.” (In case the lei around his neck is not enough of a clue, Aloha From Hawaii was taped in Hawaii, not Las Vegas – lest there be any doubt.)

Outside of the ones he did in Las Vegas, Elvis performed hundreds of concerts across the United States in the 1970s. In fact, that’s the whole point of Elvis On Tour, the very “masterpiece” the site is supposed to be promoting. None of the performance footage in Elvis On Tour is from Las Vegas, either.

Strange that not one of the photos that we fans can go Elvis ourselves in is actually from Elvis On Tour.

Am I being too picky? Maybe, but the point of all of this is to show that these companies should take a couple of hours to learn about who and what it is that they are selling.

Elvis On Tour Countdown

  • 5 days until Elvis On Tour 75th Anniversary Celebration theater event
  • 10 days until Elvis On Tour Blu-ray and DVD releases

* * *

For more information (official sites):

Selected posts about Elvis On Tour from The Mystery Train:

Elvis On Tour meets the wonder of Blu . . . but without Johnny B. Goode?

Elvis On Tour Countdown: 1 week to theater event, 12 days to Blu

Hey folks, we’re only seven days away now from the return of Elvis to movie theaters across the United States. Elvis On Tour: 75th Anniversary Celebration appears in over 460 locations on the night of Thursday, July 29. It primarily features the newly restored for high definition Elvis On Tour, but also includes what is being billed as “never-before-seen” footage of Elvis. Also included will be a message to fans from Elvis’ ex-wife, Priscilla Presley.

The event celebrates not only this 75th anniversary year for Elvis’ birth, but also the August 3 release of 1972’s Elvis On Tour to Blu-ray and DVD. Tickets are still available in many locations, so be sure to check out Fathom Events’ Elvis On Tour page to buy your tickets and support Elvis. Opportunities to see Elvis on the big screen don’t come along very often.

On Blu-ray, the film can be enjoyed at home in its new high definition glory. Some skeptics have stated that Blu-ray is wasted on a 38-year-old movie like Elvis On Tour. This is certainly not the case.

I’ve watched dozens of Blu-rays, including recent hits like 2009’s Star Trek, and I can tell you that two of the best-looking Blu-rays I have are movies that are even older than Elvis On Tour: 1971’s Dirty Harry and 1963’s How The West Was Won. Released by Warner Home Video, both titles have crystal-clear video and take full advantage of the high definition format.

How is that possible? I don’t want to stray too far into technical details here, but the simple explanation is that the film used to make most movies actually stores much more image resolution than even Blu-rays can display. Old-style TVs, VHS tapes, and even DVDs can only show a fraction of most films’ image quality, while Blu-ray, combined with a high definition television or projector, can show much more.

The key in whether older movies take advantage of high definition lies in how much effort is put into the restoration process. Did you take note of which company released the top-notch Dirty Harry and How The West Was Won legacy Blu-ray titles? That’s right, it’s Warner Home Video . . . who just so happen to be on the verge of releasing Elvis On Tour.

We’ll know for certain on July 29 and August 3, but I think we Elvis fans are in good hands and are in for a real treat.

* * *

Or . . . maybe not? There are now strong rumors circulating throughout the web that the “Johnny B. Goode” opening of Elvis On Tour has been replaced by a poorly edited live version of “Don’t Be Cruel,” meaning that this will not be the original theatrical version of Elvis On Tour after all.

If true, this is a huge disappointment, to say the least. I hope that the rest of the film is unchanged, but talk about starting the movie off on the wrong track. A 1972 live version of “Don’t Be Cruel”? Ugh. Whose bright idea was that?

If the “Johnny B. Goode” rehearsal was not available (presumably due to music clearance issues), they should have used a “Burning Love” rehearsal instead, then it wouldn’t seem quite so bad. Even “Burning Love” would still lack the thematic hook of “Johnny B. Goode” that worked so well after Elvis’ opening narration, though. Still, it would be much better than a double-play of “Don’t Be Cruel.”

Oh well. Maybe they’ll get it right next time . . . in another 38 years?

Update: As far as I’m concerned, this is still a rumor, and I’m trying to treat it as such. I’ve requested more information from a source and will update you as soon as I learn anything official.

* * *

Elvis On Tour Countdown

  • 7 days until Elvis On Tour 75th Anniversary Celebration theater event
  • 12 days until Elvis On Tour Blu-ray and DVD releases

* * *

For more information (official sites):

Selected posts about Elvis On Tour from The Mystery Train:

Found and Lost: The official Elvis On Tour video outtake releases

Elvis On Tour Countdown: 2 weeks to theater event, 19 days to Blu

The Graceland/Elvis Presley Enterprises communications department must have loved me back in the early 1990s. I was 15 or 16 years old and somehow got into the habit of sending them letters through the mail with questions about Elvis.

As I started to build my Elvis music collection, I also began reading whatever material I could get my hands on about him. Among these were tribute magazines collected by my brother celebrating Elvis’ 50th birthday in 1985 and commemorating the tenth anniversary of his death in 1987.

In one of those magazines, I read an article titled something like “The Elvis Movies: Have We Really Seen Them All?” It mentioned Bill Randle’s infamous Pied Piper of Cleveland short film (1955), but it also focused on potential outtakes from the documentaries That’s The Way It Is (1970) and Elvis On Tour (1972).

As a huge fan of both of the documentaries, I had to know if there was more footage in the vaults. So, I did what any self-respecting Elvis fan would do – I fired off a letter to Graceland and asked them about it. I had been to Graceland, and I was pretty sure that if anyone would know, it would be the people who worked there.

To his or her credit, and my surprise, someone there actually took the time to write me back. (I was unable to dig up the letter in time for this entry, but I know I still have it somewhere in my archives.) Receiving a letter from Graceland was quite the thrill.

Even more thrilling, though, was their answer. Not only did such footage exist, but Turner Entertainment had even compiled it together for video release. Unfortunately, the release was on hold as to not conflict with the 1990 Elvis: The Great Performances videos.

Not understanding the marketing and contractual issues behind the delay, I quickly resented The Great Performances for holding up the outtake footage. Though it contained two or three newly released numbers, most of The Great Performances was just a slightly modernized re-hash of 1981’s This Is Elvis.

Promotional flyer for Elvis: The Lost Performances (1992)

Promotional flyer for Elvis: The Lost Performances (1992)

It seemed like decades later to me, but 1992 arrived, and there were two big Elvis releases that year – which marked the 15th anniversary of his death. One was ELVIS: The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll – The Complete 50s Masters, the now legendary 5-CD boxed set that chronicled his studio recordings from that era. Until I had a little help the following year, that one was temporarily out of my financial reach.

It did not matter one bit to me, though, for it was the other big release of 1992 about which I was most excited. Released in the same month, possibly even the same day as the CD set, Elvis: The Lost Performances was a one-hour VHS videotape that finally delivered those promised outtakes from That’s The Way It Is and Elvis On Tour.

Watching Elvis: The Lost Performances for the first time was, perhaps, the best hour of my entire Elvis fan experience – including all the way up until the present day. I remember coming to the end of the tape, rewinding it impatiently, and immediately starting it over again. I must have watched it at least three times that first day, maybe even four.

The majority of the video focused on incredible material filmed for That’s The Way It Is, but it also included a few songs filmed for Elvis On Tour:

  • All Shook Up
  • Teddy Bear/Don’t Be Cruel
  • Are You Lonesome Tonight
  • I Can’t Stop Loving You
  • How Great Thou Art
  • Release Me

The Lost Performances was actually not the first time that Elvis On Tour outtakes became available to Elvis fans, though. Back in 1981, a couple of songs were prominently featured in the movie This Is Elvis:

  • Always On My Mind (rehearsal)
  • An American Trilogy

That movie also included some miscellaneous outtake footage, such as the recently separated Elvis boisterously indulging in guy talk with his entourage.

Thursday, July 29, will offer fans another chance to see Elvis outtakes, as previously unreleased footage will be shown as part of a special screening event in US theaters. Elvis On Tour: 75th Anniversary Celebration will also feature the newly restored Elvis On Tour.

Go to Fathom Events to find out if a theater is showing the event near your area. On August 3, Elvis On Tour will make its DVD and Blu-ray debuts. All of us who can need to be there in both cases to support Elvis and encourage future releases of additional Elvis On Tour and That’s The Way It Is footage.

Elvis: The Lost Performances never made it to DVD, so let’s make sure that these and dozens of other hours of Elvis footage from the two films are not lost forever.

Elvis On Tour Countdown

  • 14 days until Elvis On Tour 75th Anniversary Celebration theater event
  • 19 days until Elvis On Tour Blu-ray and DVD releases

* * *

For more information (official sites):

Selected posts about Elvis On Tour from The Mystery Train: