Sing Like the King: Shure and ‘Elvis’ the Movie

Sing Like the King: Shure and ‘Elvis’ the Movie

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Sing Like the King: Shure and ‘Elvis’ the Movie

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The King may have left the building, but his legend endures with the release of Baz Lurhmann’s new Elvis biopic starting Austin Butler and Tom Hanks. Shure Historian Michael Pettersen explains how he helped keep the mics in the movie legit.

The King may have left the building, but his legend endures with the release of Baz Lurhmann’s new Elvis biopic starting Austin Butler and Tom Hanks. Shure Historian Michael Pettersen explains how he helped keep the mics in the movie legit.

Released worldwide in the summer of 2022, the film chronicles the career of Elvis Presley, convincingly portrayed by Butler, from his childhood days to his rise to the world’s greatest pop star. The movie also explores the complex relationship between The King and his manager, Colonel Tom Parker, who is played by Hanks.

Caption: Model 55S on display at Sun Studio in Memphis, TennesseePhoto courtesy of Ethan Kan

In November 2019, Shure Corporate Relations received an email from Warner Bros. Pictures about the nascent production:

Attached is a microphone wish list for Baz Lurhmann’s Kat King (the film’s working title at the time. -Eds.) Production starts in February 2020, in Australia. Yes, recreating the South and Vegas in Australia. We have a container going to Australia at the end of November.  

Please let me know if you have any questions. Also, if there are products in there that Shure has reissued or you can sub, please advise. Thank you so much!

Warner Bros. Pictures, Production Resources

Technical Advice

Requests like these are not uncommon. For decades, Shure has assisted film production companies in identifying and locating historically accurate microphones. We don’t loan vintage microphones from our archival collection, but we do provide mic model identification services, user guides, dimensions, technical drawings, photos, and suggest sources such as prop houses, collectors, or online auction listings. 

Our assistance saves the production company time and money. In exchange, Shure products frequently appear in major motion pictures.

Caption: The Uniplex Model 730B Photo courtesy of www.courant.com

Wish Lists

The first mic list had the Unidyne I Model 55, the Unidyne I Model 556, the Unidyne II Model 55S, and the Uniplex Model 730B. The 55, 556, and 55S were easy to locate; LA movie prop rental houses have numerous copies. The rare Model 730B crystal mic was available at auction, but at prices that ranged from $350 to over $500. 

The second version of the mic list added the SM54 and Model 525. Vintage SM54 mics were available, but the Model 525 proved elusive. Eventually, Warner Bros. located a Model 535 and repainted it to create a Model 525 lookalike.

The third and final list expanded to include the Unidyne III SM57 and Unidyne III Model 545. Both microphones are still in production, so Warner Brothers was able to purchase them. Even so, there was a caveat.

A Model 525 Omnidirectional Moving Coil Microphone

Ready for Its Close-Up

I alerted Warner’s prop department to an important detail. “New Shure mics have the current Shure logo,” I wrote to them. ”The logo was different in the 1960s and ‘70s. If using a modern SM57 mic on screen, avoid a close-up of the label on the mic grille. Note the grille can be rotated so the logo is hidden.”

It wasn’t long before I received some much-appreciated feedback: “This info is invaluable!! There are so many mic details for us to consider. It’s great to get the inside skinny.”

Supporting Role

There are other mic brands seen in Elvis, including RCA ribbon mics, and Electro-Voice handheld mics. Still, Shure models dominate the screen – just like The King used to.

Image at the top: AUSTIN BUTLER as Elvis, Photo Credit: Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures