We’re specifically talking about Kenneth Branagh’s mystery ensemble Death on the Nile starring Armie Hammer, who has been besieged in an alleged sex scandal. The 20th Century Studios production, which reportedly cost $90M and was greenlighted by the previous Fox administration before the Disney merger, has changed release dates several times due to the pandemic: From Oct. 23 to Dec. 18 last year to being unset and then finally dated for Sept. 17. Well, now the movie that also stars Gal Gadot, Tom Bateman, Annette Bening and more won’t open until Feb. 11, 2022.
I’m told the release date has nothing to do with Hammer, who is under investigation by the LAPD on rape claims that could put The Social Network actor in jail for eight years if tried and found guilty. That said, the new date provides Disney with close to a year in regard to rethinking any form of its marketing campaign, that is if the movie sticks to its theatrical date. News of the LAPD’s probe of Hammer emerged Thursday after a Gloria Allred-led press conference in which Hammer’s accuser said of an alleged April 2017 incident: “He abused me mentally, emotionally and sexually…I thought that he was going to kill me.”
I hear from sources that there aren’t any plans to pull an All the Money in the World with Death on the Nile. In the wake of sexual allegations against the 2017 film’s actor Kevin Spacey surfacing that autumn, Sony and director Ridley Scott recast the role and reshot the Oscar winner’s J. Paul Getty scenes with Christopher Plummer weeks before the pic’s Christmas theatrical release. That was quite a feat for a production that already was locked. My understanding is that it would be hard to pull that off with Hammer’s Simon Doyle role in Death on the Nile given the movie’s huge ensemble. Following Spacey’s sex scandal, his 2018 movie Billionaire Boys Club was buried on PVOD. No news yet if Death on the Nile is headed to streaming.
While Hammer hasn’t been charged, the allegations against him create a headache for Disney in releasing a feature that was bound to have some awards potential and possibly be a box office sleeper. Branagh’s first Agatha Christie feature adaptation, 2017’s Murder on the Orient Express, overperformed opening to $28.6M stateside and grossing $102.8M domestic, $352.7M WW.
Prior to the LAPD investigation of Hammer, news was leaked on social media about the actor’s disturbing sexual fantasies, resulting in him exiting Lionsgate’s Jennifer Lopez movie Shotgun Wedding, Paramount+’s Making of The Godfather series and UCP’s Gaslit, while also being dropped by his agency, WME.
Disney provided no comment on the release-date change for Death on the Nile or the status of Hammer with the production.