Jason Blum doesn’t think Hollywood tentpoles with currently suspended productions will resume filming until 2021. Every major studio movie that was in production went on hiatus in March amid the coronavirus pandemic, from Disney’s “Shang-Chi” to Warner Bros.’ “The Batman” and “The Matrix 4.” Blum told the Los Angeles Times things might be different for small-scale productions, but he maintained that getting studio productions up and running will be near impossible without widespread coronavirus testing.
“I do think smaller productions will start sooner, but I don’t think we’re going to see Marvel movies shooting, or big expensive movies, until 2021,” Blum said. “The real answer to your question is that it’s all about when testing will be in this country as good it is in other places, which it isn’t yet.”
Also interviewed by the Times, Simu Liu is making his studio acting debut as the lead of “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings,” the upcoming Marvel movie that was in the early days of principal photography when production was suspended. The actor said the priority in Hollywood should remain in supporting essential workers during the pandemic over rushing to get back to filming.
“As badly as I want to get back to work and start making things again, I think our collective priority should be supporting our essential workers until either a vaccine is created or this disease is brought under control,” Liu said. “Neither of those things have happened, so I’m focused on staying home, keeping busy and giving what I can to ensure that people working on the front lines have the protective equipment they need.”
Another burning question in Hollywood is what will happen to movie theaters. Universal and AMC are currently feuding over a potential future where theatrical releases will have to compete with premium VOD releases. Blum told the Times he doesn’t see exhibition going back to the pre-coronavirus norm. The producer said, “As much as theaters are clearly suffering now, I think the choice that people have in theaters may change, the amount of time that movies stay in theaters may change, but I don’t think theatergoing is going away. It’s going to change, but I don’t think it’s going away.”
Kenneth Branagh’s “Death on the Nile” is one of Disney’s major fall tentpoles with a current release date set for October. Whether the release will be delayed remains to be seen, but Branagh backs up Blum in saying viewers and theaters are going to “have to adapt” to the new world.
“I’m fundamentally an optimist, but these are challenging times and they challenge anyone’s optimism,” Branagh said. “There’s no question these are dark days. We’re living in this period of momentous change, but I believe that things that are important to us will return… I do think that a desire for the communal experience is who we are, and I hope that we have the privilege of being able to return to it sometime soon.”
Head over to the Los Angeles Times’ website to hear thoughts from more filmmakers, actors, producers, and craft workers on the future of productions and movie theaters.