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You Gotta Wait ‘Just a Little Bit’: Jennifer Hudson’s Aretha Franklin Biopic Respect Pushed Back to August 2021

Illustration for article titled You Gotta Wait ‘Just a Little Bit’: Jennifer Hudson’s Aretha Franklin Biopic iRespect/i Pushed Back to August 2021
Screenshot: MGM Youtube

2020 is ending without any Respect.

The Aretha Franklin biopic starring Jennifer Hudson was originally slated to premiere in August this year, then got pushed back to a limited release this Christmas, with a wider release come Jan. 15, 2021. That date has now been pushed back again, with the MGM-produced Respect not hitting theaters until Aug. 2021.

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The multiple postponements are due to the coronavirus pandemic, which has shuttered movie theaters in the United States since March. Several big Hollywood features, like Disney’s live-action Mulan were moved to streaming platforms, while others—MGM’s Tomb Raider 2, for example—have been taken off the calendar altogether.

If the current schedule holds up, Respect will premiere close to the three-year anniversary of Franklin’s death. It was none other than the Queen of Soul who picked Hudson to play her.

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“We met in New York, and one of the first things she said to me was, ‘You’re gonna win another Oscar for playing me, right?’’ Hudson, who won an Academy Award for her role in Dreamgirls, told Entertainment Weekly.

“Imagine Aretha Franklin looking you in the face and saying that,” Hudson continued. “‘I was like, ‘Eh, uh, eh… I can try.’”

Joining Hudson will be a star-studded cast long on musical and acting talent. Supporting roles include Mary J. Blige, who will play blues singer Dinah Washington, Forest Whitaker, channeling Franklin’s father, and Marlon Wayans, who will play Franklin’s first husband Ted White. Tony and Grammy Award winner Heather Headley, Tituss Burgess, and Skye Dakota Turner (who takes on the role of a young Aretha, after playing the young Tina Turner in the Broadway musical Tina) will also make appearances in the film.

At the helm of the much-anticipated biopic will be award-winning director Liesl Tommy. While the South African-born Tommy has gotten recognition for her direction on Broadway, she has also sat in the director’s chair for Queen Sugar and is slated to helm the adaptation of Trevor Noah’s bestselling memoir, Born a Crime.

Staff writer, The Root.

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