Can Jason Blum figure out a way to restart Hollywood movie production?
It’s a great irony: At a time when most movie-watchers are stuck on their couches seeking more films to watch, Hollywood can’t continue making new ones.
That’s all thanks to the novel coronavirus pandemic, which has virtually shuttered (along with the rest of the global economy) the moviemaking industry. After all, how do you make a movie without calling actors, producers, and other visual pros to the set?
Two months into shelter-in-place orders in Hollywood’s home state of California, film producers are getting itchy that their pipelines are drying up. Enter producer Jason Blum. As Los Angeles County begins to relax some restrictions related to the coronavirus pandemic, the man behind Blumhouse Productions (The Gift, Split, Happy Death Day, Us) is said to be working on plans with Universal Pictures to film a small project on the company’s L.A. lot.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the $6.5 million production’s “cast and crew would live in a hotel nearby, and a set of safety protocols would be in place.” The report adds: “Forget about insurance that would cover a shutdown due to a coronavirus-related outbreak of illness.”
It’s evident that Blum has been thinking about the situation for some time. In an interview with the Los Angeles Times last month, he said he believes “smaller productions will start sooner” but expected “big expensive movies” like Marvel’s superhero films to wait until 2021. “It’s all about when testing will be in this country as good it is in other places, which it isn’t yet,” he added.
If it comes to pass, this new Universal-Blumhouse project would be far from straightforward—preproduction work would have to be conducted remotely, for example. The filmmakers would have to ensure that the project wouldn’t run afoul of the myriad city, county, and public-health restrictions governing activity in the region, which continue to change every few weeks. And the entire group would have to take every conceivable step to ensure that the coronavirus remains offsite.
But it would be an early data point in the broader effort to get Hollywood filming again—responsibly, of course.
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