Marvel Studios movies and other big-budget productions shut down during the COVID-19 pandemic won't be able to safely start or continue filming until 2021, predicts Jason Blum. The Blumhouse founder and producer behind The Invisible Man and the Oscar winning Get Out says re-opening a Hollywood shuttered by the coronavirus crisis is dependent on widespread testing, and only smaller productions might begin rolling cameras before the end of the year. Blum's comments come after a slew of high-profile productions suffered filming interruptions — including 2021 tentpoles The Batman, Jurassic World: Dominion and Marvel's Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings — while others projects that had yet to initiate filming, including Marvel and Sony's co-production of the untitled Spider-Man 3, had their release dates delayed after it became clear planned shooting starts would be postponed.
"I do think smaller productions will start sooner, but I don’t think we’re going to see Marvel movies shooting, or big expensive movies, until 2021," Blum said in a survey conducted by the Los Angeles Times, who posed the question of what a post-pandemic movie-making industry might look like. "The real answer to your question is that it’s all about when testing will be in this country as good it is in other places, which it isn’t yet."
Batman Forever and I Am Legend screenwriter Akiva Goldsman is "hoping for the fall," while Roy Lee, a producer on The LEGO Batman Movie and Godzilla vs. Kong, agrees with Blum that smaller scale productions will be able to film even before a vaccine is made available.
"Initially, when the shutdowns began, I feared that we would have to wait for a vaccine to be developed before any production would be back up and running. But now I’m optimistic that there will be a plan in place to allow for smaller-scale productions to start before a vaccine is developed," Lee said, speculating upcoming movie Shut-In will be among the first running because of its single location and small cast. "I believe that it will be one of the first studio productions that will start once we figure out the proper protocols that will ensure that the cast and crew are as safe, if not more, during production than they would have been pre-pandemic."
Asked what it would take to feel comfortable enough to step onto a set, Black Christmas director Sophia Takal answered, "I’d feel safe returning to a film set with a skeleton crew where everyone had been quarantined for the two weeks prior to production even now. I’d feel safe on a larger set if everyone could get rapid tested every day and wore masks and there was hand sanitizer everywhere and nobody ever sneezed, coughed or breathed very heavily in public, which is obviously not realistic."
"Stricter and enhanced safety measures are definitely in order," said Joker makeup artist Nicki Lederman, "but to be honest nothing except isolation would be 100% safe."
"Like with anything in life we need to adapt to make the work and live environment as safe as possible, for everyone. The only way to do that is for every union to work out what is needed to keep their specific membership safe, then all unions should combine those safety measures and create a plan that works for everyone," Lederman added. "I think that way crews would feel protected (enough) and studios would get the insurability they need to start up again."
Simu Liu, who headlines Shang-Chi for Marvel Studios, believes it's not yet time to resume work.
"As badly as I want to get back to work and start making things again, I think our collective priority should be supporting our essential workers until either a vaccine is created or this disease is brought under control," said Liu, whose movie was bumped from February 12, 2021, to May 7 of that year. "Neither of those things have happened, so I’m focused on staying home, keeping busy and giving what I can to ensure that people working on the front lines have the protective equipment they need."
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