Blumhouse Testing the Post-Pandemic Waters With Low-Budget Film Shoot on Universal Lot

Almost no movies are currently shooting right now due to the coronavirus, but that could change soon – especially if Blumhouse and Universal have anything to say about it. According to a new report, Blumhouse is trying to figure out a way to shoot a low-budget film on the Universal lot – with new post-coronavirus safety protocols in place.

According to a story over at THR, Blumhouse and Universal are in the midst of planning a studio lot shoot for a $6.5 million movie. In the old, pre-coronavirus days, this would be a piece of cake, and wouldn’t even warrant attention. But things have changed, drastically, and this potential shoot has the unenviable task of taking the first post-coronavirus steps. As the story says, “Cast and crew would live in a hotel nearby and a set of safety protocols would be in place.” And the established elements of film shoots of the past – like craft services tables, for instance – are going out the window.

On top of all that, Universal is also going to have to deal with insurance costs. Should someone on this production get sick due to the coronavirus, Universal will have to pay out-of-pocket. And while other studios are mulling over getting back to work, a studio source says that a Blumhouse production would be the perfect canary in a coal mine situation, saying “Blumhouse productions, specifically, are typically smaller and require a lighter crew, shorter shoots and limited location work, [which is] part of the reason we can consider a fully on-location production on the studio’s sprawling lot.”

However, the source also states that “Blumhouse and Universal aren’t moving forward with any plans until we get the green light from city, county and public-health officials. None of this preproduction planning work is being conducted on the lot itself. A small team of filmmakers and studio executives are currently working on those plans remotely. Safety of everyone involved is a huge priority, and nobody wants to rush into anything.”

If all goes smoothly and according to plan, though, this shoot could serve as guidance for productions moving forward – at least for movies with major studios like Universal behind them. Smaller indie productions are almost impossible to mount without insurance, and will likely be hesitant to jump back in too soon. As John Sloss, principal of media advisory and management firm Cinetic Media, told THR: “No insurance company in its right mind is going to insure a production against someone potentially going down [with COVID-19] at this point in time. I don’t even know how it’s a conversation.”

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