Elvis Presley made 31 feature films during his career and they all turned a profit, but some did much better than others. In fact, the films that did well ended up dictating the kind of acting roles that Elvis would be stereotyped in throughout his career.
The new book, Elvis: Behind The Legend: Startling Truths About The King of Rock and Roll’s Life, Loves, Films and Music, released on September 16 in paperback, reveals for the first time a detailed ranking of all 31 Presley films by real-time box office earnings. No book has ever before attempted to rank Elvis’ films because the data was not easy to come by.
The extensive research reveals that The King of Rock and Roll’s favorite film that he starred in actually did poorly at the box office when compared to his other films. King Creole, which was originally intended for James Dean before his tragic death in 1955, turned out to be “one of the least successful of Elvis’s films,” according to the film’s producer, Hal Wallis.
A favorite among critics, King Creole, showcased Elvis in a more serious and dramatic role. However, according to Variety, the film did not earn enough to be included in the 78 films listed on their “Top Grossers” List for 1958, the year of the film’s release.
Not making Variety’s “Top Grossers” list signaled a poor return at the box office for King Creole, Elvis’s fourth film. Presley’s first three films, Love Me Tender, Loving You and Jailhouse Rock, each ranked in the top 25 films of the year they were released, earning between $8 and $9 million dollars apiece at the time. In contrast, King Creole only earned $2.6 million. An historical tally of box office receipts in Elvis: Behind The Legend shows that King Creole, which ultimately ranks 27 out of all 31 Presley films, was one of the least successful movies of Presley’s career.
As a result, Paramount who released King Creole, did not offer Elvis Presley anymore dramatic roles for the next 7 films they did with him. However, in the early 1960s, Presley still had another chance to show his more serious side in the 20th Century Fox films, Wild in the Country and Flaming Star, which rank 19th and 22nd of all Presley films, respectively. Nevertheless, these earnings did not compare to Presley’s top films like Viva Las Vegas, Blue Hawaii and G.I. Blues. As a result, The King of Rock and Roll was stuck in formulaic romantic comedy musicals that the public almost always responded to for the remainder of his film career.
To read a free excerpt of Elvis: Behind The Legend, available in paperback or Kindle formats, click here