Disney’s ‘Death on the Nile’ Dilemma
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few months, acclaimed actor Armie Hammer has essentially been blacklisted from Hollywood as a result of mounting accusations of abuse and one particular accusation of rape – all alleged by women whom he had extramarital affairs with.
As a result, the once admirable actor and fast-rising star with numerous projects in development has not only been dropped by his own acting agency WME, but he’s been dropped and/or recast in almost everything except for Disney’s forthcoming Death on the Nile.
The highly anticipated sequel based on Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot novel of the same name was originally supposed to be released back in December of 2019; however due to other organic scheduling conflicts, as well as the eventual COVID-19 pandemic the film was repeatedly delayed.
Last week, in a company announcement that included several major release changes (Black Widow, Shang-Chi, Free Guy, etc.) the film was moved yet again from its newer release date September 17, 2021 to February 11, 2022. One has to wonder though whether or not the move was entirely necessary.
With filming having been completed for nearly two years now, and with the pandemic winding now, could it be that this particular shift was done to buy time and hope that Armie’s scandal would subside? Nothing’s certain, but it’s not the craziest idea. Disney’s fought long and hard to secure its reputation as a family friendly brand, yet the magnitude of Armie Hammer’s scandal threatens everything it stands for.
According to Variety and sources familiar with the film, Hammer plays such a pivotal role in the film that he’s practically “the male lead”. While previous films with similar scandals have gone on to bite the bullet and just recast the character (think the way Plummer eclipsied Spacey in the All The Money In The World or, more recently, Tig Notaro replacing Chris D’Elia in Zack Snyder’s Army of the Dead), because so much time has passed since production ended, the more viable option – aside from burying it on Valentine’s Day weekend a year from now – would probably be to just abandon the film on one of the company’s streaming platforms. The only major downside is that everyone else’s hard work, both in front of and behind the camera, gets diminished.
Earlier this week a tweet about Pixar’s Luca being put on Disney+ for free, as opposed to being offered via Premier Access, went viral and sparked a conversation about how the company determines a project’s worth.
Unlike the Luca issue though, everybody is going to lose something regardless of how Disney resolves this. Whether it be time, money, or plain old interest, for the price of one man’s alleged selfish actions, that’s just not fair.
So far, Disney has declined to comment on the matter.