Long-awaited doc on Aretha Franklin live gospel recording scores impressive per-screen average
It has taken the better part of half a century for the Aretha Franklin gospel concert documentary Amazing Grace to reach theaters, but for many it's been worth the wait.
The film originally shot by director Sydney Pollack and finally completed by producer Alan Elliott opened on eight screens over the weekend, collecting $87,691, which works out to more than $10,000 per screen. That was easily the highest per-screen average of any nonfiction film in release.
It was in 1972 that Pollack and his crew filmed Franklin at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles as she recorded what became the top-selling gospel album of all time. But the audio and visual footage they captured was completely out of synch, making the prospect of editing it together a nightmare, a crushing reality that prompted Pollack to abandon the project. Before Pollack's death in 2008 he asked Elliott to complete the work, an immense labor-intensive technical and editorial challenge. Franklin then sued to keep the film from being released, but after her death last year the Franklin estate quickly agreed to let it finally reach the public.
Matthew Carey is a documentary filmmaker and journalist. His work has appeared on Deadline.com, CNN, CNN.com, TheWrap.com, NBCNews.com and in Documentary magazine.