Well, someone was going to have to be first, and it’s Universal’s Jurassic World: Dominion that will take the plunge. The would-be blockbuster will be the first major studio film to restart its filming at UK’s Pinewood Studios, a location where many Hollywood blockbusters are shot. Filming is scheduled to begin on July 6, throwing the production into a frenzied pre-production period over the next few weeks. They’ll be coming to terms with an incredibly detailed program of social distancing and anti-viral measures designed in an attempt to keep the production safe from the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Dominion is the third film in the Jurassic World chronology, and is directed by Colin Trevorrow, following the director’s own Jurassic World and J.A. Bayona’s follow-up Fallen Kingdom both films made more than a billion at the box office—even Fallen Kingdom, which wasn’t particularly well received—meaning that a third entry was always going to be inevitable. This one brings back the franchise’s current core characters, played by Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard, and also promises to reunite (presumably in a small way) the Jurassic Park/World universe with the original characters played by Sam Neill, Jeff Goldblum and Laura Dern. Goldblum’s Dr. Ian Malcolm appeared in a tiny part in Fallen Kingdom. Pratt and Howard, meanwhile, will have to travel back to the UK from the U.S. very soon, in order to carry out a mandatory two-week quarantine after arriving, per England’s own COVID-19 restrictions.
Dominion initially began filming with what was supposed to be a 20-week shoot in April, but was halted in mid-March as the world effectively shut down in the face of the virus. Now, they’ll seek to get back in the swing of things in a vastly changed studio system, with a host of expansive new safety measures. Deadline reports that Universal will be spending more than $5 million on coronavirus safety measures for this production alone. Those measures include all the following, and more:
— All cast and crew members will be tested before they return to set, and then tested multiple, additional times in the course of filming.
— A private medical facility called “Your Doctor” is being established for the shoot and those who work at the studio, “to manage the entire production’s medical needs.”
— All cast and crew will receive COVID-19 training.
— 150 hand sanitizer stations will be spaced throughout the studio.
— There will be “anti-viral fogs”—whatever this means—on a nightly basis.
— Masks will be mandatory on set for everyone other than actors who are currently performing. One wonders if a COVID-19 mask will somehow end up in a scene of Dominion as a result.
Universal said the following to Deadline, in summing up their commitment to finishing the film in the safest way possible: “Anyone with symptoms will be isolated immediately before being sent home. We want to make sure that we are going above and beyond the national protocols to create a safe environment. Cost isn’t our main concern now: it’s safety. We will take direction from our medical team, but we’re confident that with the staggered scheduling and zones of talent and crew, along with a system of contact tracing, we can move forward with limited delay in production.”
Only time will tell whether such an ambitious project can be safely and successfully pulled off.