‘PRISCILLA’ HAS PRESLEYS ALL SHOOK UP
Sofia Coppola’s new film shows dark side of Elvis — and caused rift with tragic Lisa Marie
By SARA NATHAN
‘PRISCILLA” tells a tale of a young teen smitten with the world’s greatest star — lured into a world where he remakes her into his own “living doll.” The Sofia Coppola movie sees Cailee Spaeny play the young Priscilla Beaulieu, who falls for Jacob Elordi’s Elvis Presley.
It will be released Friday and is already receiving critical acclaim, including from The Post’s Johnny Oleksinski, and is being seen as a darker companion piece to Baz Luhrmann’s 2022 “Elvis.”
But sources tell Page Six that it is not being warmly received by Presley insiders, and that before her sudden death in January, there was tension between Lisa Marie Presley and Coppola over its portrayal of her father.
Even the casting is causing unhappiness among the Presley camp: Spaeny, at 5’1” is towered over by Elordi, at 6’5” a full 5 inches taller than the real Elvis.
“The intent was surely to make them feel even more different than they were,” says an Elvis estate source. “Even down to the casting, you have this huge man and this tiny girl. It feels like somebody wanted to grossly misrepresent Elvis and Priscilla and their relationship.”
And the fact that the movie focuses on Priscilla being 14 when she met Elvis is also a source of discontent, with a source saying, “Elvis did nothing not within the nature of what Priscilla’s parents were OK with.”
Sources tell us Lisa Marie was not thrilled with the script for “Priscilla” — and thought that her mother was being manipulated by the film’s makers.
“Lisa was not happy with the movie, it was more worrying about the script, its quality and that Priscilla seems to have been taken advantage of,” said the Elvis source, who has seen the movie and deemed it “horrible.”
Another insider who knew Lisa added: “Lisa wasn’t a fan, she didn’t like the script.”
Production sources acknowledged that Lisa Marie had been unhappy before seeing the script.
But the source dismissed the idea of Priscilla being manipulated as “ridiculous.”
“Sophia is the most gentle soul, no one could ever believe this,” the source said, adding: “And certainly no one who has ever seen her movies or knows her as a filmmaker.”
As for the movie: “The film is an intelligent depiction that humanizes the man behind the icon — it’s not a comic book depiction.” In a sign of the tensions over how Elvis would be portrayed, Priscilla is believed to have kept her participation in the movie a secret from her daughter. When she found out, Lisa is believed to have asked her mother not to sign up as a producer, Page Six is told. Significantly, the Elvis estate also refused Coppola permission to use his music. Coppola, who directed “Lost in Translation,” told The Hollywood Reporter in August: “They don’t like projects that they haven’t originated, and they’re protective of their brand . . . but that made us be more creative.”
The estate of Elvis Presley and his home, Graceland, is 85% owned by an LLC and by Authentic Brands Group — which also owns the rights to Muhammad Ali and Marilyn Monroe’s likenesses — and 15% owned by the Presley family.
‘Nepo baby hit job’
However, the estate did sign off on Luhrmann’s request to use his music.
“The Elvis estate licenses music to many, many projects — from ‘Lilo and Stitch’ to Nic Cage’s movie ‘Honeymoon in Vegas,’ the difference here is that they thought this movie is a total hit job by a nepo baby,” the source said.
Coppola is the daughter of “Godfather” director Francis Ford Coppola (and Cage’s cousin).
A production source said they
never had “any real understanding” of not being allowed to use the music.
Instead Coppola turned to other artists including Dolly Parton, and “it all worked out beautifully. It was a huge positive.”
Priscilla, now 78, met Elvis when she was just 14 on a West Germany US Army base.
The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll was then 24 and stationed there after being drafted, while Priscilla’s stepfather Paul was serving with the US Air Force.
Elvis wooed the schoolgirl by serenading her and told his friend Rex Mansfield that Priscilla was “young enough that I can train her any way I want.”
Priscilla moved to his home of Memphis, TN, aged 17 in March 1963.
His own living doll
In her 1985 book which is the basis for the movie she called herself “Elvis’ doll, his own living doll, to fashion as he pleased,” writing: “I mean, you lived his life. You saw the movies he wanted to see. You listened to the music he wanted to listen to. You’d go to places that he would go . . . I honestly didn’t have my own life . . . so I really kind of lost myself.”
The movie does show their romance through the prism of today’s sensibilities: Elvis would surely be canceled for dating a teen.
“Priscilla, what about boys at school?” her mother Ann, played by “Succession” actress Dagmara Dominczyk, asks in the movie. “Must be some handsome ones.”
However, Priscilla herself has said that if her parents had prevented her from dating Elvis, she would have run away.
In her book, Priscilla revealed that Elvis refused to have sex with her until they were married. The first time they slept together, she said, was on their wedding night on May 1, 1967. She was a few weeks shy of her 22nd birthday and became pregnant with Lisa Marie shortly afterwards.
She told a press conference for “Priscilla”: “People think, Oh, it was sex . . . Not at all.
“I never had sex with him. He was very kind, very soft, very loving, but he also respected the fact I was only 14 years old.”
Instead she said, he would “pour out his heart to me in every way in Germany,” talking about the loss of his mother.
“Even though I was 14, I was actually a little bit older in life — not in numbers. That was the attraction.”
Coppola said she took details from the book, including the moment that Priscilla applied false eyelashes when she went into labor with Lisa Marie, and how she matched her pistol to her dresses when she and Elvis went target shooting.
For Priscilla, the movie was “emotional.” She first watched it in May and said “I tried to separate myself and live it as if I was just a fan or just someone that’s wanting to see the movie.”
“At the end, I actually, I was quite emotional. Only being 14. you look back and you go, ‘Why me? Why am I here? Why am I driving in a limo, going through the gates of Graceland with Elvis?’ ”
The movie is not set for commercial success on the scale of “Elvis.” It was made for less than $20 million and Priscilla’s production credit fee, Page Six is told, is around $200,000.
As Page Six has reported, the relationship between Priscilla, the Elvis estate and the Presley family is complicated — and Lisa Marie’s death left Priscilla at odds for some time with Riley Keough, her granddaughter.
In his will, Elvis — who died aged 42 in August 1977 — had named Lisa Marie, then 9, his sole heir. Priscilla became a co-executor, helping to oversee the Presley estate.
Together with a management team, Priscilla helped turn imminent financial ruin around. Graceland became a museum and she signed lucrative licensing deals.
Today, the Elvis brand makes more than $100 million a year.
Lisa Marie’s will was amended in 2016 to remove Priscilla and the family’s former business manager Barry Siegel as trustees, replacing them with Lisa Marie’s two oldest children, Riley and Benjamin Keough.
Benjamin died by suicide in 2020 at age 27, so when Lisa Marie died suddenly in January, Riley, now 34, took full control, prompting a legal dispute with Priscilla.
That ended in May with Riley remaining executor and Priscilla saying: “I’m there for her. She knows that.”
Page Six reached out to reps for Priscilla, the Elvis estate and Coppola.
Riley’s personal reaction to “Priscilla” is unknown, but among the wider Presley world, the movie is not popular.
As the Elvis source said: “The estate doesn’t care if you see the movie — just don’t blame it for the 12 dollars you
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