Actor Robert Pattinson and the cast and crew of “The Batman” had been outside London filming the superhero movie for almost three months when production suddenly halted in March as the novel coronavirus spread through parts of Europe. At the time, the studio said that filming would shut down for just two weeks. Instead, the film didn’t return to set until earlier this week.
Now, days after restarting production, the film has shut down yet again, this time because its star reportedly tested positive for the coronavirus, Vanity Fair first reported, derailing the studio’s hopes for another global blockbuster.
In a statement Thursday, Warner Bros. did not identify Pattinson, but said that “filming has temporarily paused” because “a member” of the production tested positive and is “isolating in accordance with established protocols” for the virus that causes the disease covid-19.
Hollywood has been upended by the coronavirus, which has forced studios to find new ways to make films and TV shows. After months on hiatus, casts and crews on shows and films have recently returned to work with new rules and guidelines, The Washington Post’s Steven Zeitchik reported last month. Different parts of production have been siphoned into “pods,” and sets have “zones” that dictate where and who can be in certain areas. There are also covid-19 officers who monitor the health of the cast and crew.
With a growing number of cases in California over the summer, some productions moved to other states or went overseas, where cases of the virus are down and regulations have eased. According to The Post’s coronavirus tracker, California has had nearly 720,000 cases and over 13,300 deaths.
Similar to the NBA’s bubble in Orlando, film crews, casts and even hotel workers where the staff members are staying, are tested frequently and not allowed to interact with other people. “Jurassic World: Dominion,” which was one of the first major movies to pick up production, has been filming outside London since early July, the New York Times reported. James Cameron’s “Avatar” sequels are filming in New Zealand, and so is Amazon’s “Lord of the Rings” series. (The founder and chief executive of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, owns The Post.) The fourth installment of “The Matrix” is shooting in Berlin.
Filmmakers and TV writers have also had to rethink locations and plot points, The Post’s Zeitchik reported. Crowd scenes are impossible, love scenes are tricky, filming on location is unlikely and multiple takes for one scene are too costly.
Films like “The Batman,” which were in the middle of production when covid-19 forced a hiatus, have lost millions of dollars. And movies that were supposed to be released in theaters, like many summer blockbusters, have cost studios billions of dollars. Many films moved to releases on streaming services or have repeated pushed back release dates until it’s safe to go back into movie theaters. Disney’s live action “Mulan,” which was supposed to premiere in theaters in March, and then July and August, is available Friday for $29.99 on Disney Plus. (The film is not included with the streaming service’s monthly subscription).
In “The Batman,” Pattinson plays the titular role as a young Bruce Wayne. Directed by Matt Reeves, the film also stars Paul Dano, Zoë Kravitz, Colin Farrell and Jeffrey Wright. The plot of the film hasn’t been revealed, but Warner Bros. released a teaser trailer in late August.
“Tenet,” another one of Pattinson’s films, has also been a casualty of the virus as Warner Bros. repeatedly pushed back the release date of the much-anticipated Christopher Nolan movie. The film was released in the United States on Thursday, one of the first major films to open in theaters amid the pandemic.
The news of Pattinson testing positive for the coronavirus comes soon after actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson told fans on Instagram this week that he and his family had contracted the virus. Johnson urged his fans to wear a mask and stay cautious even around close friends. Johnson and his family have recovered after they caught the virus from friends who went to his home for dinner.
“We are counting our blessings right now because we are well aware that it isn’t always the case you get on the other end of covid-19 stronger and healthier,” he said.