The news that Robert Pattinson had tested positive just two days after the resumption of production of ‘The Batman’ at Leavesden Studios in the UK presented the industry with the first real-life example of the real dangers of making a film on this scale. in the midst of a pandemic. When the first person on a film’s call sheet tests positive, the ripple effects are profound for the production. It remains to be seen how what happens with “The Batman” will affect the industry at large.
According to a source familiar with the protocols of UK-based productions, anyone who tests positive for coronavirus should be quarantined for at least 10 days. Then they can be allowed to work if a subsequent test is negative and they are asymptomatic. Other productions required at least two negative tests and no symptoms of COVID-19 for at least 72 hours.
Additionally, anyone who came within six feet of Pattinson for more than 15 minutes should be immediately isolated for 14 days, whether or not they tested positive. That would likely mean any cast or stunt performer who appeared on camera with Pattinson without a mask, as well as any crew members tasked with supporting Pattinson throughout filming – including director Matt Reeves, if he didn’t stay. not socially distant with Pattinson. If any of these people also test positive, additional quarantine of individuals in their respective orbits would also be required.
As a physical production manager from another studio put it Variety, “This is probably the worst case you can have. (A spokesperson for Warner Bros. declined to comment for this story, citing privacy concerns.)
The news also comes at a critical time for an industry that must convince its top talent that returning to work will not put their health at risk. Other productions have alleviated these concerns by effectively isolating talent within a global security bubble. On “Jurassic World: Dominion,” which is also filming in the UK, Universal purchased a luxury hotel to house the stars of the film, director and key production staff when they are not working. Everyone at the hotel, including hotel employees, is tested for COVID-19 three times a week.
It is not known if “The Batman” followed such rigorous procedures.
The situation is not entirely dire for Warner Bros., however. Since “The Batman” began production before the COVID-19 pandemic ended, its current production delay should still be covered by insurance. But Pattinson’s positive test underscores why insurers have refused to draft new policies that would cover costs due to COVID-19, or any other communicable disease for that matter. No insurer wants to be at the mercy of millions of production overruns if they can avoid it.
This continues to pose a serious obstacle to a full production restart – for both major studios and independents. If independent producers did not have insurance in place in March, they will find it almost impossible to secure a completion bond.
“On the independent side, it is true that the brand new projects that probably did not have insurance taken out in March are moving very slowly,” said Jean Prewitt, CEO and Chairman of the Independent Film and Television Alliance. “But the studios won’t do better next year than the independents. ”
The Motion Picture Association has urged Congress to provide federal support for COVID insurance. But with Congress unable to even pass an unemployment extension, an insurance bailout for Hollywood (and other industries) isn’t likely anytime soon.
The next shoot in Leavesdon after “The Batman” is DC Films’ “The Flash,” which isn’t set to begin until next spring, so this delay is unlikely to disrupt Warner Bros. production pipeline.
The industry’s reaction to Pattinson’s positive COVID test is more difficult to identify.
“No one wants to admit that this can happen to them,” says a senior industry executive. “Everyone in the production is fighting to do it. The attitude seems to be, ‘I’m sorry that happened to them, but if it doesn’t happen to me, that’s great.’ ”
It is still unclear how or where Pattinson could have contracted COVID-19, and this uncertainty could also fuel a greater sense of denial.
“I think they will try to find out where the exhibition was and fix it,” says the production manager. “The problem is, unless this studio discloses exactly where the exhibit might have come from or where it thought there was a problem, we’ll never know where exactly it got COVID from.” . “