Universal’s romantic comedy “Ticket to Paradise” has halted filming in Australia due to a severe COVID outbreak in the state of Queensland, sources close to the film say. Due to the production hiatus, stars George Clooney and Julia Roberts have reportedly returned to the United States.
‘Ticket to Paradise’ began production last year in several Queensland locations and was just two weeks away from completion. Local reports say the film will be off for three months, but it’s unclear when the cameras will be able to roll again.
Directed by Ol Parker of “Mamma Mia” fame, “Ticket to Paradise” follows two divorced parents who rush to Bali to stop their teenage daughter from rushing into an unwise marriage, like theirs. The production would use the Whitsunday Islands, replacing Bali, while other locations would include Brisbane and the neighboring Gold Coast.
Daily Mail Australia, which first reported the story, said Clooney shaved off the beard he had grown especially for the film, left on a flight to Honolulu and then boarded another plane for the California.
Universal originally planned to release “Ticket to Paradise” in theaters on September 30, 2022, but the studio has since moved it to October 21, 2022. However, a three-month production hiatus could throw the new date into question.
“Ticket to Paradise” is produced by UK outfit Working Title, Roberts’ Red Om Films and Clooney’s Smokehouse Pictures. It is funded with support from the Australian Federal Government, Screen Queensland Production Attraction Strategy and the City of Gold Coast.
By the time state funding and Queensland locations were announced in March last year, international film and television production was booming in Australia. The country was quick to put financial and workplace measures in place that allowed the film production industry to get back on its feet. Strict border controls had also kept earlier variants of the coronavirus at bay.
Now, however, the easily transmissible omicron variant has caused the number of cases in Australia to soar again, although the impact varies from state to state. Queensland reopened its internal borders in mid-December, a move which was followed by a sharp rise in infections.
Authorities reported the state’s highest level of deaths in the omicron wave on Tuesday, with 16 fatalities and nearly 16,000 new cases. But with high levels of vaccination (more than 88% of the state’s population over the age of 16 have received two shots), local health officials are reporting low numbers of hospitalizations. Experts predicted the surge would peak by the end of January.