The long-shelved Aretha Franklin concert film Amazing Grace will receive a nationwide release in early 2019. Following the Queen of Soul’s death in August, the 1972 film was finally unveiled at the DOC NYC festival ahead its Oscar-qualifying run in Los Angeles and New York.
Franklin’s estate and film distributor Neon announced an agreement for the North American release of Amazing Grace, which captures the then-29-year-old Franklin teaming with the choir at the New Bethel Baptist Church in Watts, Los Angeles.
“Amazing Grace is the heart and soul of Aretha Franklin,” Sabrina Owens, Franklin’s niece and personal representative of the Aretha Franklin Estate, said in a statement. “This film is authentic and is my aunt to her core. Our family couldn’t be more excited for audiences to experience the genius of her work and spirit through this film.”
While the Sydney Pollack-directed concert film remained unreleased due to Franklin’s dissatisfaction with the finished product as well as technical and legal issues, Rolling Stone deemed the resulting soundtrack one of the Queen of Soul’s greatest albums.
In November, producer Alan Elliott, who acquired the rights to the film in 2007, said of Amazing Grace in a statement, “I am thrilled to work with Sabrina Owens and the family to do right by Aretha’s legacy. Being able to share this film and the musical genius of Aretha Franklin with her family and the world is an honor. Aretha’s fans will be enthralled by every moment of the film as her genius, her devotion to God and her spirit are present in every frame.” At the time, producers also shared a trailer ahead of its DOC NYC debut.