Movie genres rise and fall on the back of the successes that came before them. Iron Man ushered in a still-going wave of superhero films; Get Out has given rise to high-end horror. On the awards circuit, Bohemian Rhapsody's six Academy Award wins have inspired music biopics like Rocketman and Judy to make a run at Oscar gold. Now, the latest to follow is Respect, a deep dive into the rise of the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin. If the Respect teaser is anything to go by, star Jennifer Hudson will be a shoo-in for Best Actress come nomination time.
While most know Franklin for her 1960s era hits like "Respect" and "Chain of Fools," there was much more to her life. Her parents separated when she was little, and her mother passed away before Franklin was 10 years old. Meanwhile, her father, C.L. Franklin, became a celebrity on the preaching circuit, bringing famous gospel singers and Baptist figures into Aretha's orbit from an early age.
Influenced by those like Martin Luther King Jr., Sam Cooke, and Clara Ward, Franklin was an outspoken civil rights activist during the formative years of her career. Though the trailer (understandably) focuses on her best-known hit, some of the short clips suggest the film will not shy away from that history.
Here's the film's official synopsis:
Following the rise of Aretha Franklin’s career from a child singing in her father’s church’s choir to her international superstardom, Respect is the remarkable true story of the music icon’s journey to find her voice.
The biopic has been in development for the better part of the last decade, and Franklin herself was directly involved with the project before she died in August 2018. Franklin actually handpicked Jennifer Hudson to star in the movie, and approved the hiring of the South African-born director Liesl Tommy, who is best known for her Tony-nominated work on Broadway.
Though Hudson receives top billing, the rest of the cast of Respect is stacked. Her co-stars include Forest Whitaker, Marlon Wayans, Audra McDonald, Marc Maron, Tituss Burgess, and Mary J. Blige.
Respect is currently scheduled to arrive in theaters on Dec. 25, 2020.