'Westworld' Season 4 And Hulu's 'Woke' Halt Production Due To COVID-19 Outbreaks

The Delta variant is running rampant across the world, currently making up 83% of new Covid cases in the United States, and it's started impacting film and TV production. Most recently, HBO's Westworld and Hulu's Woke have halted filming as multiple crew members have tested positive for COVID-19.

The Covid Zones

There's a strict set of Covid-era rules on film and TV sets that is crazy complicated and includes regular testing, mask requirements, and routine cleaning, but the first line of defense is that they're segregating the crew into "Zones," with those not absolutely needed on set with the actors (who have to be maskless to do their jobs) kept away.

The thinking is that if an actor or director catches Covid, then that's that. They can't continue. The production shuts down and shutdowns cost hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars. If a wardrobe assistant catches Covid they can safely return home as they recover and the production can keep moving forward. That's not to say their health is any more or less important than an actor's. But in terms of the ability to keep shooting, a production can afford to temporarily replace some crew members and can't do that for the person up on the screen.

When it comes to Season 2 of Hulu's Woke, Variety reports a department head in Zone A has tested positive, which is bad news bears because Zone A is on set with the maskless actors.

At the beginning of Covid, a shutdown (like when Robert Pattinson tested positive on The Batman set) lasted weeks. With the vaccinations and multiple levels of precautions in place, these productions are now only pausing for a few days.

Westworld is filming its fourth season right now and after a positive test will pause for a few days as well, per Deadline.

Who's Affected?

These pauses are small potatoes in the grand scheme of things, important only to those affected by the positive case and those holding the purse strings at HBO and Hulu. But as Delta continues to build steam, especially amongst the unvaccinated, this could be the norm. We already have word of pauses on American Horror Story and Bridgerton and now Westworld and Woke.

Word of these pauses is coming on the heels of the news of a new deal between Hollywood Unions and producers about Covid set safety that could very well include mandatory proof of vaccination to even work on a project. That would be a big help. The current science is showing that those vaccinated aren't wholly immune to the Delta variant, but those without the vaccine are getting hit extremely hard. In short, it becomes less of a life or death threat to those working on movie sets if everybody is vaccinated.

The pauses shouldn't result in any release delays unless the frequency ramps up. Westworld Season Four is expected to air May 2022 and Woke Season 2 is expected to drop later this year or early 2022.