The release of The New Mutants seemed like it would be the last 20th Century Fox mess that Disney would have to clean up after consuming its former competitor’s film and TV branches, but it has also been sitting on another proverbial bomb: director Kenneth Branagh’s Death On The Nile, which happens to star Armie Hammer. Over the last few months, a number of horrible accusations have been made against Hammer, leading to one woman publicly accusing him of rape and the Los Angeles Police Department confirming that it had opened an investigation into Hammer earlier this month. He has now dropped out of multiple projects and lost his agent, but he had already filmed Death On The Nile long before any of this came to light. The movie has been sitting on Disney’s shelf for quite some time, having already been delayed over and over again due to the Fox buyout and then the Coronavirus pandemic, and now it’s becoming increasingly likely that there will just never be a good time to release it.
According to Variety, the film has been delayed again (it’s sixth), all the way to February of 2022, which gives the studio almost an entire year to figure out what to do about it and Hammer. However, Variety’s secret sources say that Hammer’s role in the film is so big that he’s practically the male lead, and any kind of reshoots or recasting could cost “tens of millions” and be “nearly impossible to pull off” since the movie has such a large ensemble cast (Gal Gadot, Letitia Wright, Annette Bening, Rose Leslie, Sophie Okonedo, Russell Brand, and both Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders).
A “rival studio executive” that Variety spoke to suggested that Disney’s only real strategy here is to just be direct about it and say, “Hundreds of people worked on this project, and we’re not scrapping it because of one individual.” Something like that would obviously have to depend on any further developments with Hammer, but it’s all very prickly either way. As far as other Hammer-related films go, Variety says he has a very small role in Taika Waititi’s Next Goal Wins that was filmed last year (distributed by Searchlight, which is now owned by Disney), but it’s practically “a cameo,” so that might not be big deal. There’s also the Call Me By Your Name sequel that Luca Guadagnino keeps talking about doing, but that’s never actually been a sure-thing anyway.