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‘Jurassic World: Dominion’ Shows What it Takes to Make a Pandemic Tentpole: 40,000 COVID Tests

The film is a case study in the immense challenge of making a tentpole during the pandemic.

"Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom"

“Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom”


Jurassic World: Dominion” wrapped production on Saturday, marking a long-delayed completion to the first studio movie to resume production during the pandemic. In an interview with Deadline, the filmmakers revealed just what it took to pull it off: 40,000 COVID-19 tests, $8 million to $6 million spent on protocols alone, and a cast and crew sequestered in a hotel for months.

The $165 million film, set for June 2022 release, is the sixth installment in the “Jurassic Park” franchise. “Dominion” marks the return of “Jurassic World” director Colin Trevorrow to the series, along with stars Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard. Sam Neill, Laura Dern, and Jeff Goldblum will appear together for the first time since the original 1993 movie (all three have separately reprised their roles for various sequels since then). Newcomers include Mamoudou Athie and DeWanda Wise.

“It has been remarkable,” Trevorrow told Deadline. “Our crew and our cast has been so resilient. All producers have worked around the clock to make it the best it can be. It has been inspiring.”

Pre-production on the film began 18 months ago and shooting began in July, just as production began resuming around the world following a months-long pause due to the pandemic. The production used a zoned system that relied on frequent testing to ensure safety, similar to the guidelines released in June by a coalition of unions.

Universal Pictures commissioned a private medical facility to manage the immense requirements of producing a movie during the pandemic. They set up two temperature-taking stations at Pinewood Studios in the UK, capable of processing 1,000 crew members over two hours. Each station was outfitted with doctors, nurses, and isolation booths.

At Pinewood, there were 1,800 COVID-related signs, 150 hand sanitizer stations, and 60 extra sinks.

Some 40,000 tests were administered over the course of production. Of those, about 100 turned back positive, including false positives and some that were returned prior to crew reporting to work at Pinewood. Production paused temporarily in October following positive results; altogether, there were 100 days of shooting.

Cast and crew spent the duration of production in a bubble at a hotel. “We lived together, ate together, told stories, shared our fears and hopes, played Frisbee on the lawn… there was a lot of laughter at a time when it has been hard to find things to laugh about,” Trevorrow said.

The director said that opportunity to bond ultimately made for a stronger movie.

As IndieWire reported, testing is not only a linchpin in any project’s safety and success during the pandemic; it’s also been among the most challenging requirements, given the huge number of tests required on even the most modest of films and TV shows.

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