Production on a new Ben Affleck action-thriller is relocating to Hollywood North due to the rising dangers the coronavirus has presented film industry professionals in the U.S.
“We were due to start April 27 but in March Los Angeles was completely shut down due to a rise in COVID-19 cases,” retold Solstice Studios CEO and president Mark Gill.
“That was the end of that,” he remarked.
With no other American cities as an option for filming, due to a lack of ample coronavirus testing in the country, Gill is relocating productions for Hypnotic to Vancouver.
The script, written by Robert Rodriguez and Max Borenstein – of the Godzilla franchise – will tell the story of a detective who delves into the mystery of his missing daughter and a secret government program.
“There is really nowhere in the U.S. right now that you can film production of this size,” Gill said, estimating the number of employees that will be on set in the hundreds.
In any other instance, such a gathering would defy a B.C. provincial health ban limiting gatherings to 50 people or less – but Solstice Studios has agreed with the union representing the cast and crew to provide expedient COVID-19 testing.
Testing will happen every few days, much like it does in “the NHL bubble,” Gill told Vancouver Is Awesome. Results will be known within 48 hours.
Such production changes that result from the coronavirus have driven up the cost of making big box office films this year.
"At least a million dollars or more," Gill estimates the film will cost to make during the pandemic.
“Unfortunately, if you want to make a movie right now, that’s what it is."
For instance, to protect Affleck, his scenes will be filmed separately from dozens of extras.
“We will film the extras separately and have them edited together into the frame with the lead actors who we’ve shot by themselves,” Gill explained.
This, to minimize any potential COVID-19 spread, the CEO said.
The exact locations where Hypnotic will be filmed in Vancouver have not yet been scouted, Gill said.
"It's a relief that the film industry in Vancouver is up-and-running, and Canada is doing such a good job at reducing the spread of the disease."
Solstice Studio's expected start date for production is Oct. 26.
By Aug. 31, California surpassed 700,000 cases of the virus.