According to The Grio, the Aretha Franklin biopic starring Jennifer Hudson has started filming in Atlanta.
The movie, Respect, will be directed by award-winning stage director Liesl Tommy (who was nominated for a Tony Award for directing the 2016 Broadway production of Eclipsed, which starred Lupita Nyong’o). The script is by Oscar-winning Thelma & Louise screenwriter Callie Khouri.
It was announced last year, before Franklin’s death, that singer and actress Hudson would play the role of the Queen of Soul. The actress, who an Oscar for her work in 2006’s Dreamgirls, was handpicked by Franklin.
According to multiple outlets, MGM has slated the film for an Aug. 14, 2020, release, which would almost fall on the second anniversary of the soul singer’s death from pancreatic cancer on Aug. 16, 2018. Straight Outta Compton’s Scott Bernstein and songwriter Harvey Mason Jr. will produce Respect. The biopic is reportedly based on Franklin’s own 1999 memoir, Aretha: From These Roots.
Franklin told Billboard.com in 2011 that she hoped Halle Berry would play her, although the Oscar-winning actress was concerned that she’d have to sing. “A lot of movies come out where it’s the original artist and their songs are lip-sung to,” Franklin explained. “That is how it would turn out if it’s Halle. If not, if for instance it’s Jennifer Hudson, she might sing one or two, but the rest would still be my original records. We’re definitely going to use the original records. I may re-record some things, too.”
In her legendary music career, Franklin garnered 44 Grammy nominations and won 18 awards, starting with “Respect” in 1968. The soulful singer is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the NAACP Hall of Fame, and the Gospel music Hall of Fame. In 2005, she was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by then President George W. Bush.
Earlier this year, Franklin’s concert film Amazing Grace, a live recording of her 1972 Grammy-winning gospel double album, was released theatrically nationwide. The footage was originally shot by Oscar-winning director Sydney Pollack, but due to technical issues the project was shelved for nearly 50 years.