Director Baz Luhrmann has confirmed that production will restart imminently on his untitled Elvis Presley movie. Tom Hanks, the film’s co-star has already returned to Australia, where he previously contracted COVID-19.
Production in Queensland will start from Sept. 23, Luhrmann said in a statement. The Warner Bros.-backed film was in advanced stages of pre-production in March, when Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson tested positive for the coronavirus.
“We’re back to, as Elvis liked to say, ‘taking care of business!’ It is a real privilege in this unprecedented global moment that Tom Hanks has been able to return to Australia to join Austin Butler and all of our extraordinary cast and crew to commence production on Elvis,” said Luhrmann.
“I cannot emphasize enough how lucky we feel in the current climate that the state of Queensland, and Queenslanders in general, have been so supportive of this film. We thank our partners in the Queensland Government and Queensland Health for their extremely diligent process, so that we can be an example how creativity and productivity can proceed safely and responsibly in a way that protects our team and the community at large. We are all excited to start working with Tom Hanks when he is out of quarantine in two weeks.”
Australian media reported that Hanks and Wilson arrived in the Gold Coast on Tuesday evening and were immediately escorted by police to a hotel in Broadbeach. That quickly raised questions over whether the hotel is approved by local authorities for quarantine. The matter was raised on Wednesday in Queensland’s parliament. Warner Bros subsequently issued a statement saying the hotel is approved by Queensland Health.
Hanks and other crew members were allowed entry into Queensland under the screen industry’s COVID-safe plan. “Under that plan they have to stay in the place for two weeks just like everybody else and they will have random checks, as my understanding, by the police,” state Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk told Queensland Parliament on Wednesday.
The production has taken several floors of the hotel. The cost of the hotel is borne by the production, rather than the Queensland state. Queensland is already committed to providing local financial incentives to the film, which the government says will employ 900 people and inject some $75 million (A$105 million) into the local economy.