film production

In the middle of March, when America began taking the coronavirus pandemic seriously, film and television productions came grinding to a halt. While late night shows and a handful of other productions have found creative ways to get back to work (at least briefly), TV and film production is slowly beginning to resume overseas. That’s a big deal for high-profile titles like Avatar 2, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings show, and a bit of much-needed good news.

According to Deadline, New Zealand’s health and safety production protocols have been endorsed by the national government, and according to the New Zealand Film Commission multiple productions “are already safely underway.” That means it shouldn’t be long before James Cameron’s Avatar sequels are shooting live-action footage there again. When the pandemic started, Cameron switched from working on the live-action component over to addressing the virtual production, and New Zealand-based WETA Digital has continued to work on the movies’ visual effects.

Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings had planned a four-to-five month hiatus after production of the first two episodes was complete. Most of the filming was finished by the time they were shut down due to the pandemic, and the report says they won’t resume production just to finish those episodes; instead, they’re opting to take that hiatus now. (It’s incredibly expensive to get a production back up and running, and since this show has a mega-high budget, it makes sense that they’d be looking to keep costs down however possible.)

Every production that shoots in New Zealand “will now be required to complete a registration with portal ScreenSafe in order to help the Ministry of Health with contact tracing and WorkSafe with monitoring.” Currently, international travelers are required to quarantine upon arrival to the country.

Meanwhile, the Czech Republic has announced (via ComingSoon) that international productions will be able to resume in the country in the middle of May, but they won’t require extensive quarantines upon arrival. Instead, the Czech Republic is demanding that crews produce a negative COVID-19 test when leaving their respective countries, and then they’ll be tested again within 72 hours of landing. They’ll be quarantined until that second test comes back negative, but the thought is that this method will cut down on longer quarantine periods and help ease the budgets of productions that film there.

This announcement affects shows like The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Wheel of Time, and Carnival Row season 2. For Marvel fans, I’m sure the biggest question is: how will this forced delay impact the timeline of the Marvel Cinematic Universe shows coming to Disney+? Black Widow‘s theatrical release was already delayed, but considering how interconnected the MCU properties are, will The Falcon and the Winter Soldier possibly be able to hit its original release date? Or will it be delayed, causing a domino effect that ripples through the entire MCU? With no answers on the horizon, feel free to speculate away.

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