What's Going On With Tom Hanks' Elvis Movie

Tom Hanks in That Think You Do!

There was a time, quite recently, when it seemed that music biopics were all the rage in Hollywood with the release of the Queen-inspired Bohemian Rhapsody, followed by Rocketman with Taron Egerton as Elton John, and production of an Elvis movie taking off years after it was greeenlit. However, that all changed when the film’s star, Tom Hanks, contracted Covid-19, and the pandemic became the most talked about thing in the movie (or any) industry today.

Like most film productions lately, the movie recounting the prolific career of the man dubbed the “King of Rock ’n Roll” has been at a standstill since health safety policies were put in place on a global scale. Also like most highly anticipated films, the fate of its shooting schedule since the outbreak has been a relatively hot-button topic, not just over concerns for its already adjusted release date, but more importantly, for the safety of its cast and crew.

If you are one brazen fan eager to know when this Elvis Presley movie will come out of the jailhouse, or if this is somehow the first time you are hearing about any of it, we can provide you will all the up-to-date information on the film’s status. Here's what's going on with the long-awaited biopic, starting with the basic facts.

Elvis Presley in Jailhouse Rock

What The Elvis Movie Is About

The still currently untitled biopic is said to trace actor and musician Elvis Presley's career from his explosive debut to his untimely death, with certain attention focused on the rocky relationship with his manager Col. Tom Parker. Two-time Academy Award winner Tom Hanks was first cast as the Dutch manager in March 2019, followed by Disney Channel veteran and Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood star Austin Butler was cast as “the King.” Australian actress Olivia DeJonge, best known for the 2015 horror flick The Visit, would also join the cast as Elvis’ wife Priscilla, along with Rufus Swell and Maggie Gyllenhaal as his parents.

Yet, the story really began five years earlier in April 2014, when reports came out that Warner Bros. was in negotiations with Baz Luhrmann to direct the picture from an original script by Fifty Shades of Grey screenwriter Kelly Marcel, who also wrote Saving Mr. Banks, which starred Tom Hanks as Walt Disney. This Elvis movie should not, however, be confused with Growing Up Graceland. The cinematic adaptation of the book Conversations With the King: Journals of a Young Apprentice, written by Presley's half-brother David E. Stanley with David Gruder, has not seen the light of day since it went into development in 2012.

Austin Butler in The Dead Don't Die

The Elvis Movie Was Set For An October 2021 Release

Within weeks of Austin Butler’s casting in the much sought-after lead role, Warner Bros. announced October 5, 2021 as the official release date for its still untitled Elvis Presley biopic. In addition to directing the picture, according to Deadline, it appeared that screenwriting duties had also been transferred over to Baz Luhrmann with Craig Pearce, his frequent writing partner of Moulin Rouge! and The Great Gatsby fame, among others.

Principle photography of the Elvis film, The Get Down creator Baz Luhrmann’s first feature since his aforementioned 2013 F. Scott Fitzgerald adaptation, was set to begin in early 2020, as reported by Variety, at Warner Bros’ own Village Roadshow studios in Coomera, Queensland, Australia, which is also the director’s home country. However, not long before cameras were set to roll in March, all of that would change with the shocking news centered around movie’s biggest star.

Tom Hanks in Bridge of Spies

Elvis Movie Star Tom Hanks Contracted Covid-19, Halting Production In Australia

On March 11, 2020, Tom Hanks revealed in a tweet that he and his wife, actress Rita Wilson, had both been diagnosed with Covid-19, becoming the first celebrities to make headlines for such a topic, while he was preparing to start filming the Elvis Presley biopic in Australia. Director Baz Luhrmann’s recollection to Deadline of the day he discovered his Col. Tom Parker actor had been affected by the blossoming pandemic perfectly encapsulates its growing concern on the film industry, as seen below:

So I’m getting ready to begin shooting on a Monday, and I’m rehearsing the scene where we’ve built the Vegas showroom, and Tom guides in Austin [Butler] as Elvis, and it’s a scene where basically hundreds of girls are kissing Elvis, in a ‘70s show. Tom guides him through the crowd. All of a sudden I see my producer, Patrick McCormick on the set, and he had the same look in his eyes like he had a week earlier. And I thought, well this can’t be good. You and the world knows what happened next. Tom and Rita handled it all so well, and we were so fortunate we had this direct connection with the head of infectious diseases, because it was an immediate shutdown. Without getting into the Australia-U.S. comparison, when it comes to the health system, they are so robust here. They were right on it.

Not surprisingly, production was officially put to a stop just days later, which Baz Luhrmann announced himself in a statement he posted to Twitter on March 20. Warner Bros. would also add the Elvis movie to its list of delayed theatrical releases, postponing the original October 1, 2021, date to November 5 of that year.

Elvis Presley playing it safe

The Elvis Movie Is Now Taking Precautionary Steps To Resume Production

Amid reports that movie theaters are planning to open their doors once again and some films unpausing their production schedules, reports that the Elvis Presley biopic is officially shaping up to see the cameras finally roll as soon as late August 2020. This news comes months after star Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson made a full recovery from their Covid-19 diagnoses and following the initial announcement that Baz Luhrmann had requested to resume the Australian production in late June.

According to an article ran by The Brisbane Times on August 14, Queensland’s Village Roadshow facilities is setting up a Covid-19 testing center on site, which all cast and crew members will be required to check in at. Furthermore, any person involved with the production from overseas, or from one of Australia’s most reportedly infected areas, must undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine before setting foot on the set. It seems that they are really putting safety first because, instead of its once promised November 2021 release, the biopic is now scheduled to come out in the summer of 2022, specifically on June 3.

Be sure to check back for additional information and updates related to the Elvis Presley biopic, as well as the status of even more of the movies and TV shows you are most looking forward to amid the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, here on CinemaBlend.

Jason Wiese
Content Writer

Jason Wiese writes feature stories for CinemaBlend. His occupation results from years dreaming of a filmmaking career, settling on a "professional film fan" career, studying journalism at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, MO (where he served as Culture Editor for its student-run print and online publications), and a brief stint of reviewing movies for fun. He would later continue that side-hustle of film criticism on TikTok (@wiesewisdom), where he posts videos on a semi-weekly basis. Look for his name in almost any article about Batman.