Morgan Neville to Produce Stax Records Film, Broadway Musical (Exclusive)
Hot off his documentary Oscar win for 20 Feet From Stardom, Morgan Neville has signed on to produce Respect Yourself, a film and Broadway musical based on the story of trailblazing record label Stax Records, which launched Otis Redding's career and hits like Eddie Floyd's frequently covered Knock on Wood.
Evergreen Media Group, the company behind last summer's hit horror film The Conjuring, has inked a deal with author Robert Gordon to adapt his book of the same name — a play on Redding's 1965 single Respect later made infamous by Aretha Franklin — for both the big screen and a jukebox musical in the vein of Mamma Mia!
The film will feature such 1960s hits as Redding's "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay" and Sam and Dave's "Soul Man." (Evergreen struck a separate deal with Rondor Music International to option the publishing rights to the Stax catalog of hits.)
Last month, Concord Music Group announced that it was developing its own Broadway musical about the genesis of Stax Records (Evergreen is currently suing Concord to stop that project from moving forward, claiming that Concord holds rights to Stax sound recordings but not publishing rights to the song compositions.)
Set in 1960s Memphis against the backdrop of the civil rights movement, Respect Yourself will chronicle the origins of Stax Records and its two unlikely business partners — a white banker and a black radio disc jockey — who together ushered in a new genre of music, Memphis Soul.
Gordon, who previously teamed with Neville to produce the documentary Respect Yourself: The Stax Records Story, also is producing the narrative feature alongside Evergreen CEO Tony DeRosa-Grund.
"Our plan is to first release the film, then very shortly thereafter, open the Broadway musical version," DeRosa-Grund says. "By employing this model, the musical can take significant advantage of the millions of dollars spent on the promotion of the film."