Guillermo del Toro’s “Nightmare Alley” is suspending production indefinitely amid the coronavirus pandemic. The decision was made on behalf of Disney, which is putting a hold on nearly all of its live-action productions at the moment, including 20th Century and Searchlight projects (via Deadline). Additional projects going on hold include Ridley Scott’s “The Last Duel,” starring Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, Rob Marshall’s live-action “The Little Mermaid” remake, “Peter Pan & Wendy,” “Home Alone,” and the Josh Gad-starring “Honey I Shrunk the Kids” sequel “Shrunk.” Earlier this week, Disney put a hold on the production of MCU tentpole “Shang-Chi” after direct Destin Daniel Cretton went into isolation while waiting for coronavirus results.
A Disney spokesperson confirmed the production suspensions in a statement that reads: “While there have been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 on our productions, after considering the current environment and the best interests of our cast and crew, we have made the decision to pause production on some of our live-action films for a short time. We will continue to assess the situation and restart as soon as feasible.”
Del Toro’s “Nightmare Alley” is adapted by the filmmaker and film critic Kim Morgan from the 1946 William Lindsay Gresham novel of the same name. The project is Del Toro’s first since “The Shape of Water,” which took home top Oscars for Best Picture and Best Director. The ensemble cast includes Bradley Cooper, Cate Blanchett, Toni Collette, Willem Dafoe, Richard Jenkins, Ron Perlman, Rooney Mara, and David Strathairn. Del Toro kicked off production at the end of January and had been shooting the film in Toronto.
“Nightmare Alley” casts Cooper as an ambitious carnival worker with a talent for manipulating people with his words. Cooper’s character uses his gift to carry out con jobs, but his life is thrown into disarray after he falls for a mysterious psychiatrist (Blanchett) who proves far more dangerous than he could ever image. The carnival cast includes carnival worker Molly (Mara), head barker Clem (Willem Dafoe), and del Toro’s “Hellboy” actor Perlman as Bruno the Strongman. Jenkins, an Oscar nominee for “Shape of Water,” stars in the part of the high society crowd as wealthy industrialist Ezra Grindle.”
Disney and Searchlight never assigned a release date for “Nightmare Alley,” but many were hoping the movie would turn up on the fall festival circuit and be ready for the upcoming awards season. Those release wishes are now in jeopardy now that production is on hold indefinitely.