Productions Move Forward Despite COVID-19 Surges As Warner Bros. Considers New 'Tenet' Release Options

The coronavirus continues to linger, and in my cases, surge. But Hollywood is determined to get back to work. Studios are in the midst of working with the guilds to figure out new protocols to shoot in California, New York, Georgia, and Illinois, even as the pandemic spikes in some of those places. Meanwhile, Warner Bros. is having to weigh its options regarding Tenet, the movie that everyone was hoping would be able to save the more-or-less dead 2020 summer movie season.

California has been hard-hit by the coronavirus, and recently, Governor Gavin Newsom issued new closures state-wide. But according to a report in THR, that won't impact the movie industry. Per THR's sources, "the Governor's guidance for the entertainment industry has not changed and there's no indication that it will — at least not yet. According to an official state document, individuals 'supporting the entertainment industries, studios, and other related establishments, provided they follow COVID-19 public health guidance around physical distancing' are considered 'essential workers.'"

In Georgia, where many big Hollywood productions shoot due to tax incentives, studios are "ramping up their production plans have yet to be deterred by the state's record-high COVID-19 numbers and the heated political battle over government guidelines." Stranger Things is expected to resume shooting in Georgia in September, and Netflix also hopes to finish shooting the Dwayne Johnson movie Red Notice there as well.

Compared to several other cities and states, New York City has been able to successfully curb the coronavirus spread, and the city has officially entered Phase Four of its COVID-19 recovery plan which allows movies and TV productions to shoot with fewer restrictions. And in Chicago, FX is close to getting back to work on the next season of Fargo, which had to shut down as the pandemic started.

And what of Tenet? Warner Bros. had hoped to release the film in July to signal the return of big movies to theaters. But that became impossible, and the Christopher Nolan flick moved to August. However, as that month fast approaches, Warners realized it was still too risky for a global day-and-date launch, and have now delayed the film indefinitely.

So what now? According to THR, again, it looks like WB is going to depart from tradition and roll Tenet out in different markets at different times:

Studio insiders said the espionage epic will go out first overseas, where cinemas have reopened in many European and Asian countries, and have begun to reopen in China. Tenet hopes to arrive in the U.S. in the first part of September, even if only in select cities.

Of course, this could all change. But if Warners does go ahead with this plan you can expect other studios to follow suit. We're entering unchartered territory here, and it's becoming abundantly clear that as far as the movies are concerned, big changes are in store.