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Universal Announces Launch of 'Get on Up' Tour Ahead of Film's August Theatrical Debut

by Tambay A. Obenson
June 17, 2014 8:27 PM
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Get Up On It

Universal Pictures' James Brown biopic, "Get on Up," begins with a 6-year-old James Brown, as he's abandoned by his mother (played by Viola Davis) and left to live with his Aunt Honey (played by Octavia Spencer), who runs a brothel. And the film ends in 1993 with a comeback concert, after Brown served prison time for aggravated assault and eluding the police in a wild car chase.

So it's not quite a birth-to-death biopic. 

Brown would eventually die on Christmas Day in 2006 - 13 years after the movie's above ending.

Star Chadwick Boseman (as James Brown) will also reportedly frequently speak directly to the camera, breaking the so-called fourth wall, addressing the audience directly, and offering them insight into his choices - an interesting decision by director Tate Taylor, and producers Brian Grazer and Mick Jagger.

Lennie James, Nelsan Ellis, Jill Scott, Dan Aykroyd, Keith Robinson, Craig Robinson, Ralph Tresvant, Tika Sumpter and Dan Aykroyd round out the cast.

Get on Up was penned by Jez Butterworth & John-Henry Butterworth, who wrote the script for Fair Game, which starred Naomi Watts and Sean Penn.

Universal has set the film's release date for August 1, 2014, which isn't too far away.

Ahead of the film's August 2, 2014 theatrical debut, Universa today announced the launch of what the studio calls the "Get on Up" Tour, describing it as a nationwide authentic and immersive storytelling experience, which will kick off on Friday, June 20, at the American Black Film Festival in New York, when fans will be able to, “Get Up,” “Get Down” and “Get on the Good Foot,” throughout the USA this summer.

For more on what exactly this tour includes, read on below via press release from the studio:

The "Get on Up" Tour is brought to life through an experience designed to inspire fans, as well as educate a new generation about James Brown’s influence on popular culture by leveraging powerful visuals from the film and showcasing iconic images and memorabilia. 

“Our goal with the Get on Up Tour is to entertain audiences who were directly influenced by James Brown’s life, as well as to demonstrate to a new generation just how impactful he was, and remains, to modern culture,” said Talitha Watkins, vice president of multicultural marketing, Universal Pictures.  “We want to engage fans in a way that authentically honors his legacy while bringing the fun and funk that he brought to global audiences.”

The visuals on the Get on Up Tour will bring visitors into an experience with exciting elements and activities, including a place where attendees can record their best James Brown impersonation, a dance area that casts colorful shadows as guests show off their moves and a vinyl record tribute wall that prompts fans to capture how James Brown inspired them.

The tour will also feature a viewing area where attendees can watch clips from the upcoming release of Get on Up, as well as immerse themselves in outtakes and behind-the-scenes footage with the cast from the film’s production set.  Additionally, fans can join the never-ending groove of “Can’t Stop the Funk” ( by recording their moves and uploading them to a site, where they will be featured in a tribute to James Brown.

The Get on Up Tour kicks off in New York City at the American Black Film Festival June 20-22 and travels to the Essence Festival for its 20th anniversary celebration in New Orleans on July 3-6.  The tour will return to New York on July 18.

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  • Mike | June 18, 2014 12:18 AMReply

    Let me point out some minor mistakes in the article. When you list the co-stars in "Get On Up" you list Dan Aykroyd's name twice. Then you say the release date is August 1, 2014, but then say the theatrical debut of the film is August 2, 2014. Release and theatrical debut are the same! In that same sentence you forgot to add a "L" to Universal.

  • CareyCarey | June 17, 2014 10:55 PMReply


    That's right, I'm Gettin' On Up and calling Shadow & Act's premier film analyst b/c if there is ever a movie begging for a critical analysis, as it relates to race - this be it. But since Andre is not available at the moment, let me do my thang.

    First, what's with this?-->" Get On Up Star Chadwick Boseman (as James Brown) will also reportedly frequently speak directly to the camera, breaking the so-called fourth wall, addressing the audience directly, and offering them insight into his choices"

    WTF!? Seriously?! Listen, we're talking about the God Father of Soul. Michael Corleone (The Sicilian Godfather) would be treated with more dignity and respect. So why is James Brown being displayed as a joking caricature? Andre Seewood, please come now :-)

    Well, until Andre appears, let me continue. Can I be brutally blunt - for one second? Listen, from the jump I've called these "black stories" written, produced and directed by white gentleman, nothing more than pimpin' black icons and pandering to black viewers. Now, since we all know pimpin' ain't easy (at least this production knows that very well) now Universal is pulling out the big bad madame in the form of Talitha Watkins, vice president of multicultural marketing, Universal Pictures. That's right, although prior to this ad hoc arrangement, there was not a black person to be found on this project, BUT NOW they trot out a black woman to pander to black folks at the premier music festival of the year, Essence Festival's 20th anniversary celebration.

    Oh lord, the agony of it all. I mean, I don't like being pimped and played - do you? And where is Andre Seewood when I need him?

  • Ol' Skool | June 17, 2014 9:44 PMReply

    What's next, clowns outside every theater beckoning passerby's to come nearer? Geez, this ad hoc "Get on Up" Tour has the feel of desperation one would see when a fledgling business is on its last leg.

    That said, this fiasco reminds of minor league baseball and football teams who desperately try to attract fans, not by the play on the field but by gimmicks, amusement rides and special giveaways. Damn, damn, damn, stop and think for one second, James Brown performed the song "Papa Don't Take No Mess", yet this sideshow smells awfully funky.

  • Ol' Skool | June 18, 2014 10:48 AM

    @ Tony, you could be right, they're definitely seeking a "boost" of sorts. Will Packer used a similar road show prior to the opening of Think Like A Man. In short, it works. However, let me tell you and Dave's Deluxe were I smell a rat.

    There are a few strong black men in American History who inspired African Americans to be proud of their uniqueness and to take a stand against their oppressors. Without question James Brown is in that select group, along with Malcolm X and Martin Luther King. Through their actions, speeches and in James Brown's case, his lyrics (I Am Black and Proud) they not only inspired blacks to stand tall, they shined a bright light on those who were hell bent on denying them their rights, and the techniques (and laws) they used to accomplish their evil goals.

    Now, from what I am seeing, I doubt this fluffy superficial "Get On Up" production will focus on any of the above accomplishments. So, one could ask what's the goals and purpose of the film? Hell, that's easy, the central goal is to make money off the back of a black icon while trying NOT to disrupt the sensibilities of the dominate culture. In other words, history says white folks don't like their dirty laundry thrown in the street, so Tate Taylor, Brian Grazer, Mick Jagger and Universal will bob and weave, stick & move around those hot button issues.

    So what's really behind this "Get On Up" tour?

    Well, I believe Grazer and the boys know full well they can't bamboozle all black folks - all the time. Some of us have peeped their hold card. We know (and they know) this production will not do proper justice to James Brown's legacy. Consequently, what do they do, they give us this--> "Our goal with the Get on Up Tour is to entertain audiences who were directly influenced by James Brown's life, as well as to demonstrate to a new generation just how impactful he was, and remains, to modern culture. We want to engage fans in a way that AUTHENTICALLY honors his legacy while bringing the fun and funk that he brought to global audiences"

    Opps upside our heads... there it is, not in the movie but as a sideshow tour (directed at a black audience, btw) they give us an addendum to the film. Their new goal is focused on engaging fans in a way that AUTHENTICALLY honors his legacy and to demonstrate to a new generation just how impactful he was.

    WHAT!? Kiss my ass and miss me with that bullsh*t.

    Listen, in short, I am reminded of a song by Ann Nesby titled "Put It On Paper". The song centers on a love affair in which the woman finally comes to the conclusion that her love was leaving unless the man put-it-on-paper... that legal document which tends to usher in a person's true intentions was put on the table.

    "Hey Brian, Mick and Talitha, every closed eye ain't sleep. Y'all should have put the tour's messages on the paper and IN THE MOVIE!

  • TONY | June 17, 2014 10:15 PM

    I think they're operating off of the success seen in the City Hall concert given by musicians from Inside Llewyn Davis.

  • Dave's Deluxe | June 17, 2014 10:10 PM

    I'm not entirely sure what you're saying here. Usually, when I read a passionate comment I can't understand, it's written by CareyCarey. Say-- now that I think about it, I've never seen you two in the same room together....

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