In a project that sounds like an enormous hit in the making, MGM has announced via press release that they’ve begun work on an authorized biographical film about the life of Aretha Franklin — who will be played by Jennifer Hudson. According to the release, Hudson was “personally hand-picked” by Franklin, who passed away in 2018, to play her in the movie.

They describe the plot this way: “Following the rise of Franklin’s career from a child singing in her father’s church’s choir to her international superstardom, Respect is the remarkable true story of Aretha Franklin’s journey to find her voice.” Classic Aretha songs in the film include “Respect,” “I Say A Little Prayer,” “Think,” “(You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman,” “You’ve Got A Friend,” “Dr. Feelgood,” “Do Right Woman, Do Right Man,” “Spanish Harlem,” and “Young, Gifted and Black.” Respect is the first “authorized feature film” about the Queen of Soul. And if anyone can sing those songs, Hudson can.

The cast also includes Forest Whitaker as Franklin’s father, and Marlon Wayans as Ted White, Aretha’s first husband. Making her directorial debut after extensive work in theater, the movie will be directed by Liesl Tommy. It could be a very interesting project — and it’s hard to imagine it not attracting a big audience with those songs and that talent. Respect begins filming on November 1 and will open in theaters on August 14, 2020.

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