EXCLUSIVE: Universal’s Jurassic World: Dominion is set to be the first major studio movie to re-start filming proper in the UK, we can reveal. Cameras are due to roll the second week of July (July 6) at Pinewood Studios, Universal has confirmed.
The filmmakers and studio top brass have pulled out all the stops to get the production back underway after it was halted by the pandemic in mid-March four weeks into a 20-week shoot. In recent days, production staff have been implementing rigorous safety protocols on-site and a two week pre-production period will begin next week.
“The plan is for us to be shooting early-mid July,” a senior Universal production executive confirmed.
Universal has been working with the UK’s British Film Commission and U.S. unions to ensure the production meets required safety standards. But it is also going beyond those measures.
The studio is understood to be spending around $5M on its protocols, which will see the production carry out thousands of tests during the remainder of filming. All cast and crew will be tested before returning to set and then again multiple times during filming.
The safety measures will include the commission of a private medical facility called Your Doctor to manage the entire production’s medical needs; Covid training for all cast and crew; on-site doctors, nurses and isolation booths; 150 hand sanitizer stations; nightly anti-viral ‘fogs’; more than 1,800 safety signs put up around Pinewood; and ‘Green Zones’ for shooting cast and crew. Masks will be obligatory other than for actors while performing. Scroll down for more detail on the studio’s protocols.
“Anyone with symptoms will be isolated immediately before being sent home,” the Universal production executive told us. “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.”
The ambitious program has been vetted and approved by Universal chairman Donna Langley and Universal’s senior leadership team. Langley has been a vocal advocate for getting the industry back into production and has spearheaded the working group for LA County’s economic resiliency task force on behalf of the media and entertainment sector.
Some of Dominion’s main cast, including Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard, returned to the U.S. during the hiatus but will fly back to the UK shortly where they will need to carry out a two-week quarantine per new government regulations. Actors traveling from the U.S. will be tested prior to leaving the country, too.
Dominion director Colin Trevorrow has been instrumental in planning and getting buy-in from cast and crew. Inevitably, the team has had questions about the return to work in a country that has been particularly hard-hit by Covid, but we hear the spirit has been collaborative and positive.
Unlike many productions, Universal’s previous insurance policy will remain in place without exclusions, which is part of the reason the studio is able to return to production so swiftly. During the costly hiatus, Pinewood has been charging the U.S. studio holding fees, which has been another spur to getting back underway.
We understand that the movie’s content is not expected to be significantly impacted by the on-set changes. There are not many large crowd scenes remaining, we hear, and the uptick in effects is only expected to be marginal.
Trevorrow, who wrote the script with Emily Carmichael from a story by Derek Connolly, is executive producing with Steven Spielberg. Frank Marshall and Pat Crowley are producing. Laura Dern, Jeff Goldblum and Sam Neill are reprising their roles from 1993’s original Jurassic Park. Current release date is June 11, 2021. Previous instalment Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom grossed $1.3BN in 2018, good for fifteenth all-time at the box office.
Jurassic World: Dominion has been one of a handful of major studio productions on hold in the UK. The government gave the film and TV industries the go-ahead for production to re-start last month but there remain safety, practical and insurance issues to iron out as the UK slowly comes out of lockdown (schools, cinemas, pubs, restaurants remain closed).
Other UK-based blockbusters waiting for their green-light include Warner Bros’ The Batman and Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them 3, and Disney’s The Little Mermaid. James Cameron arrived back in New Zealand earlier this month to get back underway on the Avatar sequels and Netflix is underway on multiple TV productions (and one film) in the Nordics.
All the studios have been working best they can on non-contact elements of their movies during the hiatus, including VFX work, storyboarding and planning for re-starts. We hear that construction crews are gearing back up now on a number of productions so don’t be surprised if this is the first of a string of announcements about movie re-starts.
Universal’s protocols for Jurassic World: Dominion will include:
- The commission of a private medical facility called Your Doctor to manage the entire production’s medical requirements. This will include Covid-19, fever and antibody testing but they will also review all hand sanitizer, social distancing measures, updates to government and best practice guidelines. Your Doctor will continually update the production’s safety measures as the science and environment changes and will be available for cast consultations to review health and safety concerns.
- The studio has commissioned Your Doctor to test all crew before they start on the production. They will then test the crew at times throughout production. The whole crew will also be antibody tested. Thousands of tests are expected to be carried out over the shoot period.
- All crew will be temperature tested every day and not allowed on site until complete. Two walk-through temperature testing stations are being built at each end of Pinewood Studios with capacity of 1,000 crew over 2 hours. Each test station will have a compliment of doctors, nurses and isolation booths. Crew will be verified that they have been tested by a bespoke RFID system that registers when a crew member has been temperature tested. Crew will also be given a paper wristband for identification by security as a fall back. Additional temperature test stations will be set up on location as required.
- The studio is putting up around 1,800 signs across Pinewood and more on location. These will include reminders that crew numbers will be limited in various locations, the need for social distancing (six feet of separation) and one-way systems in operation.
- The studio is rolling out a full COVID training program to be undertaken by all staff before starting. Universal will also do specific training for specialist groups (e.g. costume and makeup).
- The studio is manufacturing 150 hand sanitizer stations to be positioned at points around Pinewood Studios. They are also putting in an extra 60 sinks. All crew members will also be given an individual hand sanitizer bottle when they start.
- Production will double the cleaning recommendations and employ a large cleaning team who will continually clean all the touch points across the site in addition to all common areas, toilets, welfare and kitchens. They will clean with specialized antiviral sprays appropriate to the situation. In the evenings all toilets, communal areas, welfare areas, kitchens, trucks and sets will be antiviral fogged. Props, grip, SFX and camera will use specialized antistatic cleaning systems.
- The studio is setting up a ‘Greenzone’ for the shooting cast and crew which will have an enhanced testing environment. The ‘Greenzone’ will be policed to stop any untested crew from coming in as a further measure to prevent any spread of COVID.
- Universal will have additional security detail maintaining the temperature testing centers and a further team who will check crew are eligible to go into the protected greenzones. Security team will be trained in COVID measures to ensure that the required operations are followed.