Jurassic World: Dominion, one of the first big studio tentpoles to resume production during the pandemic, has been forced to alter its shooting schedule in Malta after a coronavirus outbreak in the archipelagic country. Four first-unit crew members tested positive for the virus one week ago, Variety reports, requiring fellow crew members who had been in contact with them to self-isolate. Now Universal will send a second-unit crew to shoot in Malta instead.
“Jurassic World: Dominion will have a significant presence in Malta with a second-unit crew shooting there from the end of August through to September,” a Universal spokesperson told Variety. “Working with an abundance of caution, as we have done throughout this production, first unit will no longer shoot in Malta to keep our presence on the ground to a minimum.”
Jurassic World: Dominion, the third installment in the revamped Jurassic franchise, began filming in late February, but was forced to halt as the novel coronavirus spread around the globe. Production on the Colin Trevorrow–helmed film picked back up again on July 6 at Pinewood Studios just outside London, with a slew of painstaking new safety protocols outlined in a 107-page safety manual, according to the New York Times. Among these safety protocols? Testing the temperature of every cast and crew member upon arrival to set, vacuum-sealing meals, and requiring actors to be more involved in the preparation process, including teaching them how to secure their own microphones.
“Until now, actors were not really included in prep,” star Bryce Dallas Howard told the Times. “But in order to get any of us on a plane, we had to thoroughly understand the protocols, who was involved, and hear second and third opinions. We are the guinea pigs who are going to take the leap.”
The studio has also taken steps to minimize the number of people on set, dividing the cast and crew into two groups. The Green Zone group includes essential on-set cast and crew members, like Trevorrow, the camera operators, and the sound department. Green Zone members, including cast members like returning Jurassic alums Laura Dern, Sam Neill, and Jeff Goldblum, are tested for coronavirus three times a week.
The shoot in Malta was supposed to last eight days. Prior to those crew members contracting the virus, four crew members in the U.K. had tested positive for COVID-19 since early July. Per the Times, none of the crew members have gotten progressively sicker.
For a production as large as Jurassic World: Dominion, having cast or crew members test positive for the coronavirus seemed like an inevitability. Yet studios are still looking for ways to make filming work, even as the pandemic persists. Production is also moving ahead for tentpoles like the upcoming fourth Matrix film and the upcoming Avatar sequel, which are also enforcing serious safety measures; those productions, however, are largely being shot in Germany and New Zealand, two countries that were quicker and more successful at flattening the curve than the U.S. and England. In the U.S. in particular, studios have been unable to shoot on Hollywood sound stages because of rising infections across California.
Smaller-scale productions, however, have found ways to move forward. In a recent interview with i-D, Cardi B revealed that the music video for “WAP,” her hit song featuring Megan Thee Stallion, was shot after a pricey round of coronavirus testing. “We had to spend $100,000 just on testing,” she said. “Everybody on the shoot had to get tested.” That number offers a window into just how expensive it is for any production to take such safety protocols, particularly a major tentpole. But even with crew members contracting the virus, studios have doggedly determined that the show must go on.
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