We’ve spent the last eight months writing about how the coronavirus pandemic has affected Hollywood, and how it will have lasting effects across the entire entertainment industry. Now Jason Blum, one of the town’s most successful producers, has applied a numeric value to the extra costs that are being added to making movies because of the ongoing pandemic. In his words, “it ain’t cheap.”
In a new interview with Inverse to promote his new body-swap slasher film, Freaky, Blum was asked how the costs for PPE (personal protective equipment) factor into the budgets of movies in the era of the coronavirus. His answer may surprise you: “It’s 10 to 20 percent of the production cost. It’s an additional 10 to 20 percent…it ain’t cheap.”
Let’s apply those numbers to Freaky as an example. That movie was filmed before the pandemic began, but let’s imagine that it was lined up to shoot while the virus was raging. Adding ten to twenty percent of its $5 million budget brings the cost up to between $5.5 million and $6 million. Not too bad, right? Now apply that same metric to something much more expensive, like Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, one of the most expensive films ever made. That production reportedly cost $379 million to make; adding an additional twenty percent would bring its total to an astronomical $454 million.
The thing I find most interesting about Blum’s comment is that he seems to only be talking about the additional costs for PPE (masks, face shields, etc.), not any of the other extra costs that a movie might be burdened with during this time. Productions now have to hire a coronavirus advisor who can shut down filming if an outbreak occurs, and many sets are being divided into groups or zones to limit the number of people who share the same space. And that’s not even factoring in the extra insurance a movie might have to secure before it can even go before cameras at all.
“When this is over, I think everybody is gonna follow the deal that Universal has,” Blum told Inverse, referring to the unprecedented deal signed earlier this year. “I think the future of theatrically released movies is that they’ll play in theaters for a shorter time, they’ll be many more of them, and then they’ll be a two or three-month premium rental window where you’re paying $20 for the movie. Then it’ll move to pay-TV and the traditional rental window, which is four or five bucks.” Of course, that’s assuming there are any theaters left when this is all over.
Header photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash
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