Since studios are already looking ahead as to how they can resume production on movies that were still in the middle of shooting when coronavirus brought them to a halt, they’re being forced to consider how/if they were return to international shooting locations. For one particular blockbuster franchise, the risk may be too great to head back overseas for the planned shoot.
Mission: Impossible 7 was just beginning a three-week shoot in Venice, Italy as the spread of coronavirus was taking off around the globe. Very quickly, Paramount Pictures halted production until the danger passed, but now the studio is trying to figure out whether or not they want to risk Mission: Impossible 7 shooting in Italy at all. There’s talk of either axing the Italian leg of production completely, or potentially pushing the shoot until fall when coronavirus may have subsided.
In a new report, Variety takes a look at the important decision Paramount Pictures has to make about Mission: Impossible 7 shooting in Italy or not and the future of movie production at large. The film from writer/director Christopher McQuarrie and producer/star Tom Cruise was shut down at the end of February, but cameras are apparently expected to start rolling again in June as the spread of the virus plateaus. Since Italy was a hotspot for the spread of coronavirus, and there’s concern about a second wave of the virus emerging if business resumes to early, there’s a hefty amount of risk involved with a potential return to Italy.
As of now, the expectation is that a lot of productions may have to avoid shooting on-location in foreign countries (as well as the United States) for the time being. This is mostly due to the travel restrictions in a lot of countries, but also because there’s a lot more risk about contracting coronavirus when you’re on-location as opposed to a soundstage on a studio backlot that can easily be cleaned extensively every day and closed off from the general public. Even gathering a crew to work in controlled environments can be risky.
Producer Matt Baer (Unbroken) told Variety:
“It’s a massive problem. There’s plenty of precedent in movie history for what you do if a hurricane hits your set or an actor dies in production, but there’s no rule book for what you do in a pandemic.”
As it stands, the Directors Guild of America is already assembling a committee led by director Steven Soderbergh to figure out how to safely return to work when the time comes. The efforts will not only include discussions with epidemiologists and guilds to help plan the path forward and determine a date when production can resume, but also address the creation of new standards on sets in order to keep everyone as safe as possible.
Certain proposals of how to resume production include mandating that all employees stay in hotels or assigned housing where they will isolate themselves from friends and family for the duration of a shoot. Other suggestions include now-commonplace precautions like having crew members wear masks and gloves, instituting extra cleaning, and possibly the frequent disposal of brushes and tools used by make-up artists and hairdressers, which could become rather expensive.
No matter what precautions are taken, there’s still the risk of liability, and with it comes a concern about the cost of insurance for productions looking to resume sooner than later. Scott Zolke, an entertainment lawyer and partner at Loeb & Loeb said, “The impact of this is going to overwhelm the [insurance] carriers. At the very least you’re looking at much higher premiums and much higher deductibles.”
For now the future of Mission: Impossible 7 is unclear, but that’s just one of dozens of productions that have casts and crews waiting to get back to work. With only so much studio space in the United States and such great concern for the health of those involved in these productions, it’s going to be a long road before we get back to business as usual.
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