James Brown, the “Godfather of Soul” who passed away in 2006 at age 73 after an iconic career and often troubled life, goes from “Hardest Working Man In Show Business” to motion picture that its producers Imagine Entertainment and Mick Jagger hope will do some hard work at the late summer box office.
Imagine, the Ron Howard-Brian Grazer production firm behind dozens of hit films ranging from A Beautiful Mind to The Da Vinci Code to Rush, and the film’s studio Universal Pictures released the first trailer for the James Brown biopic Get On Up late Thursday afternoon.
The movie is directed by Tate Taylor, best known for another film about southern African-Americans, The Help. Legendary soul singer James Brown was born in 1933, in small South Carolina shack. But he was raised in a Georgia house of prostitution by his aunt, who ran the place.
While no exact budgeting figures on the James Brown film have been made public, it has been described as “mid budget,” which these days in Hollywood usually means between $50 million and $100 million.
Get On Up stars Chadwick Boseman as James Brown, as the 32-year-old actor plays yet another trailblazing African American cultural icon. Boseman portrayed Jackie Robinson, the first black player in Major League Baseball, in last year’s biopic, 42.
Check out the trailer, in which Boseman appears to be lip syncing to the original James Brown tracks. The feature film hits U.S. screens August 1.
But his life was often troubled and controversial. At age 16 he was incarcerated for armed robbery, but in his later years his troubles were even worse. In the 1980s he suffered from drug problems and domestic violence allegations.
In the 1960s, he was an outspoken civil rights advocate, rejecting Martin Luther King’s policies of nonviolent resistance and believing that blacks needed to arm themselves for their own self-defense. But in the 1970s he became a supporter of Republican President Richard Nixon.
In one of the greatest moments of his career, James Brown played a concert in Boston on April 5, 1968, the very day after the assassination of Martin Luther King. The concert was televised locally, and though cities all over the country were exploding into racial violence on that night, Boston remained calm — an achievement attributed to James Brown.
The Boston incident was the subject of a powerful 2008 documentary, The Night James Brown Saved Boston. Check out the trailer for that incredible film, below.