Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis Presley biopic may always be remembered as the set where Tom Hanks got COVID-19. When the news broke that America’s Sweetheart and his wife, Rita Wilson, had tested positive for the virus, it was a moment where many finally sat up and paid attention to the pandemic. Hanks was the first big name to be directly affected by the global health crisis.
The actor was getting ready to play Colonel Tom Parker, the manager to Austin Butler’s Elvis Presley, in the first Baz Luhrmann movie since his 2013 adaptation of The Great Gatsby. The production in Australia halted back in March soon after Tom Hanks’ diagnosis, but a very real and pivotal location for the famed singer is set to open this Thursday: Graceland.
The once-private retreat for the King has been closed for two months to the public. Graceland is usually one of the most visited houses in the country, and it's opening its gates to the public with safety precautions in place. The Memphis, Tennessee tourist spot has announced it will open its 100 acres full of tours, retail and restaurants, just at a much lower capacity than usual.
According to the official Graceland website, the home of Elvis Presley will open on May 21 with tours operating at 25% capacity, along with shuttle seating and restaurants operating at 50% capacity. All employees will be wearing masks and visitors will be “highly encouraged” to do the same. There will be signs posted throughout Graceland to promote social distancing and contactless payment options.
The state of Tennessee has a reported COVID 18,378 cases, with 3,700 confirmed cases found in the county of Shelby – where Graceland resides. Shelby County has the second-highest number of cases in Tennessee and is in stage one of its reopening plan. The spot offers a breadth of history for Elvis Presley fans, including the Graceland Mansion, his gold and platinum records, costumes, cars and private planes.
I was four days out from shooting. I had built the Vegas showroom, the International which became the Hilton, and you know that famous scene where Elvis is playing that showroom? We were rehearsing camera positioning, everything, and I’d done all the tests – Austin, Tom, and the whole cast was on fire. We were that close.
The movie is expected to follow Elvis Presley’s life over a 20-year period. Baz Luhrmann hopes to resume filming later this year, though the director does admit plans involving Elvis playing to crowds may have to become an “illusion” due to the global health crisis.
Stay tuned here on CinemaBlend for more updates on the Elvis Presley biopic and other highly-anticipated movie releases.