Production has been suspended on Universal Pictures rom-com Ticket to Paradise, starring Julia Roberts and George Clooney, amid the spread of COVID-19 in Queensland.
Filming was nearing completion on the project, being shot across Southern Queensland and the Whitsundays, but is now set to resume at a later date.
Directed by Ol Parker, who also wrote the screenplay with Daniel Pipski, the film follows Wren Butler (Billie Lourd), a recent University of Chicago graduate whose abrupt decision to marry a Balinese local on a post-graduation trip triggers her parents (Clooney and Roberts) to team up and try and stop her from repeating their mistake. The cast also includes Lucas Bravo and Kaitlyn Dever.
Producing are Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner of Working Title, alongside Sarah Harvey and Deborah Balderstone, with Clooney and Grant Heslov producing for Smokehouse Pictures, and Roberts, Lisa Gillan, and Marisa Yeres Gill for Red Om.
Senior executive vice president of production Erik Baiers and director of development Lexi Barta are overseeing the project on behalf of Universal, which had scheduled to release the film in October this year.
It was Australia’s initial handling of the pandemic that led to the country being chosen as the location for the film last March, with the production receiving a $6.4 million grant via the Federal Government’s Location Incentive Program on the expectation it would inject $47 million into the local economy and create more than 270 jobs for cast and crew.
While Queensland remained COVID-free for much of last year, the opening of the state’s border on December 13 and subsequent rise of the Omicron variant has meant there are now more than 85,000 active cases in Queensland, with 16 deaths recorded on Tuesday alone.
In a statement, Screen Queensland CEO Kylie Munnich acknowledged the climate had changed but expressed confidence in the state’s continuing appeal as a production destination.
“All industries are impacted by the global COVID situation and screen productions are facing some challenges as can be expected,” he said.
“Some productions have decided to take a short break and others have delayed starting production by a few weeks.
“However, the Queensland screen industry remains in a very strong position with an enviable slate of local and international productions scheduled for 2022 and demand to film in the state continuing to be high.
“Screen Queensland is proactively providing assistance to production companies, to maintain the global reputation for Queensland as a screen production destination, employing thousands of talented local practitioners and injecting millions of dollars into our state economy.”
Universal has been contacted for further comment.