Ever since the late rapper Tupac Shakur made an amazing and unnerving appearance at the Coachella festival in April, people have been wondering what other deceased celebrities will be digitized. There was the rumor of Michael Jackson being revived, news that Freddie Mercury would appear at a Queen concert, and confirmation that Marilyn Monroe would soon be a hologram. (The folks behind the Tupac-gram say he’ll be going on tour, too.)
So anyone surprised that Elvis Presley will soon be holographically reanimated hasn’t been paying attention.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Digital Domain (the people behind the Tupac likeness, which we should point out isn’t really a hologram) and Core Media Group (which owns the rights to some of the King’s intellectual property) have struck a deal:
According to Digital Domain, a visual effects company that also has worked on such films as The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,Tron: Legacy and X-Men: First Class, the virtual Elvis will soon be seen in film, on television and in other venues. Concerts appear to be a clear possibility. Digital Domain says it will announce soon where audiences can expect to see the first virtual Elvis performances.
It sounds like, at best, it could be another jaw-dropping Tupac experience. Or it could just be more Elvis-branded kitsch, perfect for a Las Vegas revue near you. As always with these sorts of revivals, the danger is that if the animators get one thing wrong, it tends to throw off the entire effect (cf. the uncanny valley). And even if they get everything right, the recreation can unintentionally infringe on the legacy of the original artist.
Take, for instance, the planned Marilyn Monroe hologram. The founder of Digicon Media, the company that’s bringing the bombshell back to life, described her new incarnation to The Hollywood Reporter as “a performer, spokesperson, cultural pundit and computer avatar.” Which begs the follow-up question: “Spokesperson” for who? “Cultural pundit” for what?
Elvis, too, will apparently be a multi-platform entity in his digital reincarnation. “We’re in the creative development stages now,” Ed Ulbrich, Chief Creative Officer at Digital Domain, told MTV News. “Instead of a single application we’re looking to bring Elvis back across a host of platforms, including live concerts in venues.” That sound you hear is thousands of Elvis impersonators suddenly crying out in terror.