Elvis Presley Biopic Production Suspended Due to Coronavirus Concerns
Production on an untitled Elvis Presley biopic has been indefinitely suspended due to the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). The film's director, Baz Luhrmann, announced the news on Twitter early Friday morning (March 20).
"I'm sure it will come as no surprise that this is not the moment to be resuming production on the film," Luhrmann writes, adding that he's spoken with Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk about the decision. Pre-production for the movie, which was underway in Gold Coast, Australia, was recently shut down after actor Tom Hanks and his wife, singer-songwriter and actor Rita Wilson, tested positive for the coronavirus.
"Please know this is in no way a reflection on our commitment to make this movie here in Queensland. In fact, we are not even taking our sets down, simply locking up the creative space over the next few days," Luhrmann adds. "Right now, this is the right time for people all over the world, from all walks of life, to be at home, indoors, with their loved ones (washing our hands five times a day). All going well, we have a passionate conviction to be back here on the Gold Coast, picking up where we left off as soon as the time is right."
A spokesperson for Warner Bros. adds in a statement, "Despite valiant efforts, due to current world events, production on the Elvis film cannot proceed at this time. We will commence principal photography once circumstances permit" (quote via Billboard). Reportedly, production staff were advised to take off until June or July.
Luhrmann's Presley film is scheduled to open on Oct. 1, 2021, though that date may be pushed back given this production stoppage. In addition to Hanks, who will portray Presley's manager, Col. Tom Parker, the film will star, among others, Austin Butler as Presley and artist Yola as Sister Rosetta Tharpe.
According to the World Health Organization -- which declared the coronavirus (COVID-19) a pandemic on March 11 -- over 214,000 cases of the disease and 8,733 deaths because of it have been reported globally as of March 18. In the United States, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there have been 7,038 confirmed cases of the coronavirus and 97 deaths as of March 18.
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