Hollywood is Back and so is Jurassic Park


Olivia Cevasco, Writer

When Coronavirus hit the United States in March, Hollywood was shaken. There was no plan for safely filming major movies that require close proximity of cast and crew in the midst of a pandemic. Shooting of films—including The Batman, Mission Impossible 7, and Jurassic World: Dominion—paused, and the majority of theatrical releases were pushed back to 2021 in light of theater closures. Every level of the film industry was disrupted by the pandemic, and California’s economy was wounded by the shuttering of Hollywood. When California’s governor Gavin Newsom announced the state’s second Coronavirus lockdown in July, Hollywood was considered an essential industry since it accounts for $16 billion in CA wages and 700,000 jobs, according to NBC. In order for the industry to restart, studios developed safety measures to ensure high-stakes films, such as Jurassic World: Dominion, could resume shooting without COVID-19 outbreaks on set. 


Jurassic World: Dominion, photo via John Wilson/Universal Pictures and Amblin Entertainment


Jurassic World: Dominion, produced by Steven Spielberg, is the sixth installment of the Jurassic Park franchise and the finale of the Jurassic World series. Filming began in Canada in February of 2020 but was paused on March 13 due a surge in positive COVID cases. However, while the shooting of Dominion was on “hiatus,” visual effects were created for the scenes previously shot, so the months in limbo weren’t completely lost. In July, filming resumed in the UK, and Universal Studios employed many safety protocols—they even wrote a 108 page guidebook—to ensure the wellbeing of their community. Universal rented an entire hotel near their Pinewood Studios in the UK where the cast and crew quarantined in a “COVID-free zone” for the duration of the filming. The cast, crew, and hotel workers were tested for Coronavirus three times per week, and in total, 40,000 Coronavirus tests were given out during the 100 day shoot, resulting in a whopping $9 million spent on safety protocols. Less than 100 tests came back positive, an impressive feat considering that many of the positive cases were spotted before the “COVID-free bubble” went into effect and some were false-positives. After a filming period of 9 months, disrupted by coronavirus in March and again in October, filming ended in early November, and Jurassic World: Dominion is now in post-production. The movie is slated for release in June of 2022—one year later than originally planned—in the hopes of a large theater audience post-COVID. As the first major film to resume production, Jurassic World: Dominion pioneered safety protocols for a large cast and crew during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Across Hollywood, many films that are resuming shooting are implementing “COVID-free bubbles” where the cast and crew quarantine together, get tested frequently, and take safety precautions on set, inspired by Dominion’s protocols. In addition, sets are now divided into three zones with different safety requirements. For instance, a red zone includes the mask-less actors and requires strict safety adherence for the crew surrounding them, while a green zone might allow for 6-feet of social distance between crew without masks, and a yellow zone would be on the continuum between the two.  

Although Hollywood faced a mountain of uncertainty regarding how to safely shoot at the start of the Coronavirus pandemic, the industry has adapted safety measures that have proven effective in preventing coronavirus outbreaks on set. California’s film commissioner, Colleen Bell, expressed that “None of this is easy—but frankly, I give the industry a lot of credit for adapting so quickly.” Hopefully, as a covid vaccine comes to the American public in a few months, Hollywood can return to filming on the same scale as it was pre-covid and we can all enjoy major film releases in theaters again.