As the production of Jurassic World: Dominion continues just outside of London, Universal Pictures seeks to prove that even during a global pandemic, Hollywood blockbusters are far from extinction.
Despite pouring an additional $9 million in safety precautions into what was already a $200 million dollar movie, no amount of money can guarantee anything when it comes to the spread of the coronavirus. Universal is moving forward with the shooting schedule, and is optimistic that the multitude of on-set changes will keep the cast and crew safe up to the filming’s conclusion.
Filming for Jurassic World: Dominion began in February and continued until March 13, 2020, when production was placed on hold due to the outbreak of the coronavirus.
Filming picked back up again in the U.K. on July 6, this time following a 107-page safety manual outlining the changes for every job on set.
Movie sets have always been ever-evolving balls of organized chaos, but never before have they required nurses at the entrances manning temperature gages, 150 hand sanitizer stations, the accumulation of 18,000 coronavirus test kits and the rental of an entire luxury hotel for 20 weeks.
The coronavirus is fundamentally changing the ways in which movies are made. Everyone from the actors and directors to each member of every crew department are all following set protocols never before seen.
So how does a movie get made while adhering to strict safety protocols? Spoiler: Actors Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard will not be undergoing sudden costume chanvges while inexplicably wearing masks through half of the movie, nor will they be chased through the forest by velociraptors in face shields.
The first step for shooting a movie in 2020 is to not be in the U.S.
“It is virtually impossible to shoot anywhere in the U.S. right now,” producer Mark Gill told the New York Times. The reduced severity of the outbreak in the U.K. compared to the U.S. has eased production.
The immediate filming location is called “the Green Zone” which consists of only the bare minimum personnel needed to capture each individual shot, actors, directors, camera operators, sound and lighting tech. Everyone that works within the Green Zone, including the actors, is tested three times a week, while the departments that work outside the zone are able to be tested on a less frequent basis.
Despite piling millions of dollars in safety precautions, the production of Jurassic World: Dominion is still teetering on the edge of a blade. Following the safety guidelines has worked well thus far, but if anything slips through and any of the lead actors test positive for the virus, filming comes to an immediate halt.
No matter what happens over the course of production, Jurassic World: Dominion will set a precedent, whether it will be a bastion of hope delineating how the Hollywood machine can keep on churning or a lesson in disaster proving the world isn’t ready for large scale films to return. If Jurassic World: Dominion is capable of reaching completion, its safety policies and guidelines will very likely be adopted for moviesets all across the world.
It’s important to remember that Jurassic World: Dominion is not attempting to spearhead mid-pandemic filmmaking for the creative pursuit of the artform, but rather, money is the leading motivation.
There is an awful lot riding on the completion and release of Jurassic World: Dominion. The two previous entries in the Jurassic World series both grossed over $1 billion and Dominion is expected to perform just as well at the box office. The possibility of future shutdowns and delays costing the studio more money just adds to the pressure.
To quote Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum’s character from the original Jurassic Park), “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.”
The parallels that can be drawn between the fictional corporations from the movies and Universal Pictures moving forward with risks in the name of profits is almost laughable. Time will tell whether or not production will take after the chaos and disarray of the series it is creating, or if Jurassic World: Dominion will truly grace audiences in theaters on June 11, 2021.