Kenneth Branagh’s “Death on the Nile” never seems to catch a break. Even Poirot himself is scratching his head. First, the movie was delayed among the 20th Century Fox merger with Disney. Then, the Covid-19 pandemic pushed it back even further. And now, the film’s sixth delay to the beginning of 2022 comes at the hands of Armie Hammer, who’s host of accusations has Disney on the defense.
Armie Hammer’s collapse has been swift. It began with Instagram DMs which showed him allegedly describing cannibalistic fantasies. But that has evolved into a number of accusations of abusive behavior including an allegation of rape. In fact, only a few weeks ago, the LAPD announced they were opening an investigation on the actor.
Hammer has denied all the allegations and his lawyer claimed everything was consensual. However, in light of the mountain of voices against the “Call Me by Your Name” actor, all studios who were planning on working with Hammer in the future have dropped him. He has even lost his agent.
But that’s for future projects. Disney and other studios are facing a PR disaster in dealing with films Hammer finished already. Armie Hammer filmed his role in “Death on the Nile” long before any of these accusations came to light. Variety’s sources told them that Armie Hammer’s role was basically the male lead.
This makes reshooting expensive at best and impossible at worst. Doing this kind of reshooting would cost “tens of millions” and even then, since it’s such an ensemble film, getting back the whole cast would be incredibly difficult.
You may be remembering “All the Money in the World,” where Kevin Spacey’s role was recast with Christopher Plummer in reshoots. However, Sony had a much smaller cast to work with. In this case, they would have to wrangle back Gal Gadot, Annette Bening, Rose Leslie, Russell Brand, Letitia Wright, and even more. There’s really no way to get Armie Hammer out of “Death on the Nile” feasibly. It would make more sense to scrap the whole thing.
A rival studio executive who spoke to Variety said, “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,’” but even then, it’s not clear it would work. It could also necessitate Disney assuring fans that Armie Hammer wouldn’t make any more money off the film, but that may not be something they can legally do. The same executive thought the film might just go straight to Hulu, and Disney would minimize the exposure.
Disney has bought themselves a few months to see what happens. They pushed back the movie from September to February of next year. Now, with a little less than 12 months, the studio has to figure out exactly where to go from here. And there’s no easy solution. Disney now has a little more time. But if they’re hoping for a miracle, they may just be out of luck.