As the impact of covid-19 continues to hammer away at virtually every industry on the planet, movie studios have been looking to find any way they can to work ahead on films that, thanks to lockdown restrictions, cannot feasibly shoot new material. One way? Flocking to countries that have started to re-open.
In recent weeks, there’s been talk that shows and movies planning to shoot in New Zealand—which has been able to slowly lift its rigorous lockdown orders after seemingly being able to control the spread of the novel coronavirus within the last two months—like Amazon’s Lord of the Rings show and the seven billion Avatar sequels may begin production sooner than expected. That is, barring any potential second-wave spike of infections that might shut everything down again.
Now Deadline reports that Warner Bros. is pondering a similar idea in Germany—specifically for The Matrix 4, which was filming in the country’s capital just before Chancellor Merkel announced lockdown restrictions for the country. According to the site, based off of initial reporting from Variety this week, the cast of the film signed eight-week extensions to their filming contracts to keep them on hold until at least July 6, with the hopes of production resuming early the same month. Warner Bros. isn’t extending similar hopes to other ongoing productions like The Batman or the third Fantastic Beasts film, which were shooting in the UK—as the country, despite taking early first steps at loosening its own lockdown status this week, still remains largely in a state of shutdown.
The Matrix 4 and Germany’s case in particular is an interesting sign of things to come, with movie studios looking to try where they can to mitigate the impact covid-19 has had on schedule slates, not just for films that literally cannot release in a world where movie theatres remain shut, but for films and shows that were due to hit later this year and into next year, and even beyond that. Germany’s own hasty easing of social gathering and business restrictions in recent days has already brought with it a renewed increase in the rate of novel coronavirus infections, sparking concerns that the German government may have to re-employ its previously lifted restrictions sooner rather than later.
No doubt that’s a concern at Warner Bros. and every other studio in Hollywood, as they try to wrestle finding the balance between chucking their production slates out of a window and trying to keep the people behind those productions as safe as possible.