Jurassic World: Dominion got right back to filming in the U.K. in July, picking up from where the potential blockbuster left off at the outbreak of the worldwide coronavirus pandemic and subsequent lockdowns. Only this time, the production has an extra $9 million tacked on just for its COVID-19 safety plan. It’s safe to say that the cost of doing business on a major Hollywood film production is never exactly low, but doing that business during a pandemic means spending money in a host of ways that most of us would never even have thought to imagine.
According to a report in The New York Times, production on Jurassic World: Dominion now revolves around a 107-page safety manual of coronavirus best practices, which is essentially the Bible as far as day-to-day operations are concerned. The $9 million safety plan was necessary to lure stars such as Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Sam Neill, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum back to the set, and involves renting an entire hotel for no less than 20 weeks.
Other expenses of that $9 million safety plan include, among many others:
— 18,000 COVID-19 testing kits, with most members of the on-set crew being tested for the coronavirus at least three times a week.
— Daily antiviral mists on set before each day of shooting.
— Actors’ chairs surrounded by mandatory social-distancing cones.
— A “living room” for essential on-set personnel that requires disinfection before entering and exiting.
— 150 hand sanitizer stations sprinkled around the set.
— A takeout-only cafeteria with masked workers behind plastic partitions, who provide vacuum-sealed meals.
“Until now, actors were not really included in prep,” said Bryce Dallas Howard to NYT. “But in order to get any of us on a plane, we had to thoroughly understand the protocols, who was involved and hear second and third opinions. We are the guinea pigs who are going to take the leap.”
If Howard and co. are the “guinea pigs,” working within a system with so many precautions, one has to wonder how she feels about the “essential” warehouse or meat-packing plant employees who have been working straight through the pandemic for the last five months.
Regardless, there’s obviously a huge amount of risk inherent to such a large production—Jurassic World: Dominion has an overall crew of around 750 people, which requires every member of that crew to be divided up into groups that aren’t meant to interact with one another. One group is composed of the majority of the crew, who are not intended to be physically present during filming. The second, smaller group is called the “Green Zone,” and includes all the actors and crew members who are specifically needed on set.
With other productions also getting back underway, such as James Cameron’s Avatar sequels in New Zealand, you can be certain that every major film studio will be paying close attention to how safe Universal is able to make the set of Jurassic World: Dominion. If even precautions on this level fails to stop transmission of the virus, then the movie industry will be facing a true existential crisis.