That Elvis Biopic Filming When Tom Hanks Got Coronavirus Halts Production

Elvis Presley in Viva Las Vegas

Here’s something wild: it’s been seven years since director Baz Luhrmann’s last movie, The Great Gatsby, came out. Granted, in that time he also worked on the short-lived Netflix series The Get Down, but now he’s finally returning to the film world with his Elvis Presley biopic. However, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and one of Elvis’ stars, Tom Hanks, catching the coronavirus, production on the movie has officially halted.

Bad Luhrmann announced the news himself on Twitter, saying:

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Although Elvis was first announced back in 2014, the project didn’t start taking significant steps forward until last year, and in February, filming finally kicked off in Australia. However, a wrench was thrown in the works last week when Tom Hanks and his wife, Rita Wilson, tested positive for the coronavirus. They left the hospital last weekend and are now in quarantine at their temporary Australian residence until further notice.

Obviously that means that it was going to be a while until Tom Hanks could return to working, but when combined with all the other ways the coronavirus has wreaked havoc on everyday life, Baz Luhrmann and his team decided it was best to press pause on Elvis. Luhrmann even went as far as to discuss the matter with Queensland premiere Annastacia Palaszczuk on the matter.

Elvis certainly isn’t the only major motion picture that’s paused its production work. The Batman, The Matrix 4, Jurassic World: Dominion and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, among others, have also stopped rolling cameras within the last week. However, as Baz Luhrmann noted, rather than dismantle the sets and start fresh later down the road, the “creative space” is just going to be locked up until it’s decided that it’s okay to proceed with filming again.

Tom Hanks was the first actor to be cast in Elvis; he’s playing Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis Presley’s manager. As for Elvis himself, The Shannara Chronicles’ Austin Butler scored the role, beating out competition like Ansel Elgort, Miles Teller, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Harry Styles.

The cast also Olivia DeJonge as Priscilla Presley, Maggie Gyllenhaal as Gladys Presley, Rufus Sewell as Bernon Presley and Yola as Sister Rosetta Tharpe. The movie, which Baz Luhrmann also co-wrote with Craig Pearce and Sam Bromell, will chronicle Elvis’ journey to becoming a music legend and his life away from the stage.

Elvis is scheduled to come out on October 1, 2021, although if principal photography is delayed for a while, there’s the chance that Warner Bros could push it to the end of 2021 or even into 2022. Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for any scheduling updates on this and other upcoming movies, but for now, keep track of what’s still to come this year with our 2020 release schedule.

Adam Holmes
Senior Content Producer

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.