How did “Death on the Nile” become such an advertising nightmare?

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If Kenneth Branagh is Murder on the Orient Express felt a little uncomfortable watching thanks to Johnny Depp, the director’s follow-up, Death on the Nile, seems downright harmful. The second of Branagh’s Agatha Christie adaptations, the film features a celebrity-beleaguered who’s-who – a collection of scandals that threatens to overshadow the effortlessly executed (albeit somewhat predictable) murder mystery of Hercule Poirot. ).

But unlike movies like Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwaldwhich dumped Depp despite Amber Heard’s domestic violence allegations, the collection of scandals among Death on the NileThe cast of seems to have piled up by an unfortunate coincidence. Actors like Armie Hammer, Russell Brand, and Letitia Wright may all be in hot water now, but each of their respective PR issues seem to have happened after the film was already in the box. (Speaking of which, what happened to that “postponed” press tour?)

Death on the Nile follows an increasingly terrified couple (Gal Gadot as heiress Linnet Ridgeway Doyle and Armie Hammer as her amorous, pedigree-less husband Simon Doyle) as they try to enjoy their honeymoon. The pair embark on a tour of Egypt before boarding the SS Karnak with several “friends”, all of whom seem to have their own suspicious motives and interests. Emma Mackey plays Linnet’s ex-best friend, Jacqueline de Bellefort, who was madly in love with Simon before Linnet took it for herself. Terrified by Jackie’s relentless harassment, Linnet begs our favorite French sleuth to come aboard with her merry band of suspicious friends and relatives, none of whom she really trusts.

Filming for Death on the Nile took place in late 2019, before most of its main cast made unsavory headlines. The film was originally supposed to be released in December 2020, but was later delayed to February 11 this year. In the meantime, her cast has faced an almost improbable amount of bad press.

Hammer’s presence might be the film’s most troubling hurdle. Last January, he was forced to respond to unverified allegations of abuse from several women, who alleged the actor talked about slavery fantasies, cannibalism fantasies, bloodsucking and mutilation. Powerhouse attorney Gloria Allred began representing one of Hammer’s accusers, Effie, last year. Effie claims to have been in a relationship with Hammer for four years and said that during one terrifying encounter, “I thought he was going to kill me… I was in complete shock and couldn’t believe that someone I loved did this tome.”

Both Hammer and his attorney, Andrew Brettler, have denied the rape and abuse allegations against him, which the actor called “bullshit claims.”

In a statement last year, Brettler said, “From day one, Mr. Hammer has maintained that all of his interactions with [Effie]— and all of her other sexual partners for that matter — were completely consensual, discussed and agreed to beforehand, and mutually participatory.

Armie Hammer’s Disturbing Instagram DMs Are Being Sold As NFT Art

However, as Allred said in a press conference, “It is important to emphasize that even if a sexual partner agrees to certain sexual activities, they still have the right to withdraw their consent at any time…Even if a partner consents to certain sexual acts, this does not mean that there is consent to any sexual conduct with her, nor should it be construed as consent to sexual abuse or criminal violence against her. »

Hammer reportedly completed a months-long stint in rehab in December. It has been recast in several productions since the cannibalistic allegations broke, including shotgun wedding, The offerand The next goal wins. Disney, which initially pushed back the release date of Death on the Nile in November 2020 due to the pandemic, reportedly considered recasting Hammer’s role or dropping it digitally. Ultimately, however, THR reports that the studio decided such a maneuver would not be feasible due to the size of the ensemble cast and the ongoing pandemic. A trailer released last winter seemed like an attempt to downplay Hammer’s appearance, but he remains a crucial and constant presence in the film itself.

But Hammer is not the only one Death on the Nile star to land in hot water since the movie was announced. The other half of the film’s central couple, Gadot, have come under scrutiny for years thanks to their outspoken stances on the Israel-Palestine conflict – an issue that resurfaced last spring when the The actress and former IDF soldier (participation is mandatory in her native Israel) resounded in political strife as Israel bombarded the Gaza Strip with airstrikes. “Israel deserves to live as a free and secure nation,” Gadot wrote at the time. “Our neighbors deserve the same.” The actress then disabled comments on the post as online vitriol grew.

Fellow cast members Russell Brand and Letitia Wright, meanwhile, have both come under fire for promoting anti-vaxx views amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Comedian Russell Brand has become a powerful voice for anti-vaccines

Brand, whose YouTube channel describes him as something of a provocateur who “just asks questions,” has spent months using his platform to spread vaccine skepticism. He also spoke out against vaccination mandates, saying in a video: “The idea of ​​imposing something is authoritarianism. It is what it is. It’s telling people they have to do things. (If only he and Evangeline Lilly, who recently posted about her decision to attend an anti-vaxx protest, could save those missives for the group chat.)

Wright denied sharing anti-vaxx views on the set of black panther 2, as described in a dispatch from Hollywood journalist, calling the reports “completely false”. When production on Marvel’s sequel resumed in January, Wright was among the returning cast. But even before that report surfaced, she got herself into trouble by sharing a video titled, “COVID-19 Vaccine, Should We Take It?” The video, from Light London church leader Tomi Arayomi, was full of misinformation about COVID-19, the pandemic and vaccines.

At first, Wright didn’t seem concerned about the backlash she was facing on social media. “[I]If you don’t conform to popular opinions but ask questions and think for yourselves…you are cancelled,” she wrote. She then added: “[M]The ONLY intent of posting the video was that it raised my concerns about what’s in the vaccine and what we’re putting in our bodies. Nothing else.”

Letitia Wright, Aaron Rodgers and Hollywood’s Unvaxxed Clowns Tell Their Own Story

It’s not clear if the mess surrounding a healthy serving of Death on the NileThe casting of will affect its box office (Depp’s presence certainly didn’t seem to stop Murder on the Orient Express to become one of Fox’s top players of 2017). That would be a bit of a shame for the film, which is shot beautifully by Branagh as he continues to relish the role of Belgium’s greatest know-it-all. Sophie Okonedo steals the show as Salome Otterbourne, a bluesy jazz singer with a lavish collection of turbans and an impeccably campy ’30s drawl. And Mackey, best known for playing Maeve on Netflix Sex educationoffers a lovely performance as the woman in this film is despised.

Then again, Depp was a star on a train packed with A-listers, not a group of beleaguered stars that make up a good part of the entire film. Stacks of bad titles may not sink the ship, but a lot of paddling could lie ahead.

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