Disney has a situation on its hands when it comes to releasing Death on the Nile, the upcoming sequel to Murder on the Orient Express. Armie Hammer, who has been accused of rape and other acts of abuse, is now caught in a highly publicized scandal. He is one of the leads in the movie. Its release date was recently delayed to early 2022, which gives the studio time to sort things out. But this is going to become a PR nightmare with few, if any, good options. However, at least one option has been taken off the table, as Hammer will not be recast.
According to a new report, Armie Hammer's role in Death on the Nile is significant. While the movie boasts a huge ensemble, it is said that he could be considered the male lead. So it would be nearly impossible, not to mention extremely expensive, for Disney to recast the role and reshoot those parts of the movie. This was famously done with Ridley Scott's All the Money in the World. Following Kevin Spacey's numerous sexual misconduct allegations, the studio axed Spacey from the movie, replacing him with Christopher Plummer. But that is not feasible in this situation.
By delaying the release yet again, Disney has an opportunity to see how things unfold before hatching a strategy. No matter how things shake out, it's a nightmare of a situation for a studio. Along with Armie Hammer, the cast also includes the likes of Gal Gadot, Annette Bening, Russell Brand and Letitia Wright, among many others. Hundreds of people worked on the movie and the alleged actions of one man may sink the ship. An unnamed rival studio executive suggested that may be the only way for Disney to run with it at this point, saying the following.
"It seems like the only way to go with this is to come out front and say, 'Hundreds of people worked on this project, and we're not scrapping it because of one individual."
Another painful reveal, from a business perspective, is that Death on the Nile could have been released quite some time ago. Director Kenneth Branagh worked on the ill-fated Artemis Fowl before diving into work on his sequel to Murder on the Orient Express. Disney reportedly called the filmmaker back to rework Artemis Fowl, which delayed production on Death on the Nile. In the end, Artemis Fowl tanked critically and was dumped straight to Disney+ anyhow. Had Branagh been allowed to proceed with the original production timeline, Death on the Nile would have been released before Armie Hammer's rape scandal broke.
This is not to say that an earlier release, or a release on Disney+/Hulu, would have excused Armie Hammer of his alleged actions. It merely would have made the release more possible and could have helped save the work of the hundreds of cast and crew members who worked on the movie. These are very serious allegations. Hammer, for his part, has denied all accusations made against him. But, in the timeline provided by his accuser, these incidents if true would have occured before the making of Death on the Nile.
Armie Hammer's career has been in a spiral ever since the accusations from a woman named Effie first surfaced. Hammer has been dropped from several key projects, including Jennifer Lopez's Shotgun Wedding, as well as The Offer, a series about the making of The Godfather. Most recently, the actor lost out on his role in the upcoming thriller Billion Dollar Spy. Death on the Nile is currently set to arrive in theaters on February 11, 2022. We'll be sure to keep you posted as any further details are made available. This news comes to us via Variety.