Filed in: End of Week Production Notes, Featured, Film, News, Television

End of Week Production Notes 7/2/21: Longer Indiana Jones Delays (or Not), Disney Insurance Lawsuit,and More News

July 2, 2021 08:50 | By

What? It’s Friday again?! Where did the week go? And what are going to do with that extra day off on Monday to fully celebrate the 4th of July (which is actually on Sunday)? We’ll do our best to keep ourselves busy, but we’ll be moving the “Over the Weekend” to Tuesday, July 6, and then skip next week’s “Hump Day Update” altogether. Got all that?

Before we get to today’s news updates, we want to make sure everyone read our report that the current Covid-19 safety protocols agreed upon by the unions (SAG-AFTRA, DGA, IATSE and others) and management (the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers or AMPTP) last September will remain in effect “indefinitely” or until the groups can get together to negotiate an updated agreement. You can read where things are at right here.

Harrison Ford

Harrison Ford in Raiders of the Lost Ark (Photo: Paramount)

There’s been some interesting rumors flying back and forth after the report that Harrison Ford was injured while practicing a fight sequence for his Untitled Indiana Jones movie last week.

Earlier this week, it was reported that Ford may have been worse off than originally reported (by an anonymous source to The Sun, so big caveat there), and that it might delay production for up to three months until September. That would inevitably delay the movie’s planned release in the summer of 2022 after the movie had already delayed a year. Undaunted, Director James Mangold took to socials to answer a worried fan who tweeted to him about the longer delays, saying “Hang in there, James… it will be ok.” to which he responded, “We’re all good. Shooting! But thanks!” So yeah, maybe The Sun got it wrong, but there’s been no word either from Lucasfilm or Walt Disney Pictures about Ford’s injuries being more serious than expected or production being delayed longer while he recuperates.

(Source: Twitter)

(Source: Twitter)


DisneyLogo

Speaking of Disney, it was bound to happen with everything that was shut down due to COVID last year. The Walt Disney Company is the latest to get embroiled in a multi-million dollar lawsuit over insurance responsibility, in this case with the Fireman’s Fund Insurance.  The $10 million lawsuit was filed in L.A. Superior Court based around claims Disney put in with the insurer to cover costs of “Second Wave” and “Holiday Hiatus” insurance costs procured last year. Based on the October 2019 insurance policy, the Burbank-based Fireman’s doesn’t think it’s obligated to pay for those periods, so it sued Disney on Thursday to secure declaratory relief from the courts.

The period in question was the latter part of 2020 when things were being shut down again in the second wave of COVID over the fall holidays. The 8-page complaint filed by Culver City attorneys GladstoneWeisberg, pointed out the period in question, “After several months, the shutdown orders were gradually modified, allowing production to resume. However, various jurisdictions imposed requirements, including, for example, frequent testing and quarantining of cast and crew in the event of exposure. The restrictions have led to more shutdowns, more expenses and more claims.”

“Fireman’s Fund contends and TWDC disputes that to the extent TWDC incurred extra expenses as a result of covered cast/crewmembers, who were otherwise healthy, being required to quarantine due to exposure to persons who tested positive and/or became infected, there is no coverage under the Cast Coverage,” the claim continues. “TWDC further contends that coverage is available for the Second Wave Claims under the Policy’s Civil Authority Coverage,” the company’s filing goes on to say.

“Fireman’s Fund disputes this and contends that the Civil Authority Coverage is not triggered by orders of civil authorities requiring, for example, testing and/or quarantining, but only by orders revoking permission to use or prohibiting access to facilities used or to be used in an insured production.”

This probably isn’t unexpected, because there’s a lot of question about who is responsible for money lost due to COVID shutdowns. In fact, that’s the whole reason for having insurance in the first place, but maybe not enough i’s were dotted or t’s crossed to cover the unexpected second wave, which hurt production in California almost as badly as the initial shutdown in March.

The claim goes on to say, “Fireman’s Fund contends that the Imminent Peril Coverage is not applicable because the peril, i.e. the pandemic, is no longer imminent, Rather, it arrived in 2020. Alternatively, Fireman’s Fund contends that if the peril is not the pandemic itself but is, instead, the imminent risk of infection that the Imminent Peril Coverage was not intended to apply where a producer, i.e., TWDC, intentionally puts the cast and crew in harm’s way by continuing production in the face of a peril that must, by definition, be imminent and of such probability and severity that it would be unreasonable or unconscionable to ignore.”

And then getting specifically into the holiday period where production normally shuts down: “It is customary in the industry for film and television productions to pause for two weeks beginning a few days before Christmas and extending until after New Year’s Day, so that cast and crew can enjoy the holidays. According to TWDC, public health authorities in Los Angeles, Atlanta and London expressed ‘elevated concern’ during the 2020-2021 holidays about then-spiking Covid-19 levels, and urged, but did not order, TWDC to extend the Holiday Hiatus for an additional 1-2 weeks.”

Disney has yet to respond to the complaint, but as is usually the case with lawsuits such as this, they’ll probably save their arguments for an inevitable court case to fight the charges. In most cases, a big corporation like Disney could be seen as the “bad guy” only because it’s a multi-BILLION dollar company, but it’s been hit and hurt by COVID just like everyone else. $10 million isn’t a lot to pay off and settle this case, but when it comes to production and insurance, it can be quite contentious, so we’ll see what happens next.


From The Hollywood Reporter comes some movie casting news for The Last Voyage of the Demeter, a long-in-development movie about the ship that brought Count Dracula to America from Amblin Partners, which has begun production in Berlin, German. David Dastmalchian from Ant-Man and the upcoming The Suicide Squad is joining the cast, as well as Game of Thrones‘ Liam Cunningham, Aisling Franciosi, and creature performer Javier Botet. They join Corey Hawkins (In the Heights) in the horror movie being directed by André Øvredal (Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark). Others added to the cast include Jon Jon Briones (Ratched), Stefan Kapicic (Deadpool), Nikolai Nikolaeff, Woody Norman, Martin Furulund, and Chris Walley.

Isabella Merced

Isabella Merced (Paramount Pictures)

From Deadline comes word that Isabela Merced (Dora and the Lost City of Gold) will play Juliet in Rosaline20th Century‘s revisionist romcom take on Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, currently starring Kaitlyn Dever from Book Smart. Although the movie was originally at MGM, 20th Century picked up the project when it went to market. Karen Maine is set to direct the movie based on Rebecca Serle‘s novel, When You Were Mine, which was adapted by (500) Days of Summer Oscar-nominated writers Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber. The prolific Shawn Levy and Dan Cohen from 21 Laps are producing with Emily Morris and Becca Edelman overseeing for the company and Sarah Shepard overseeing for 20th Century. The novel and movie gives a modern twist on the classic by viewing it from the perspective of Juliet’s cousin Rosaline (Dever), “a sharp but idealistic young woman—who happens to be Romeo’s recent ex.”

Nicole Ari Parker (Chicago P.D.) will star in the recently-greenlit Lifetime thriller movie, Safe Space, directed by husband Boris Kodjoe, making his directorial debut, as he co-stars in the movie along with Drea De Matteo (The Sopranos), Nik Sanchez (The Rookie) and Mackenzie Astin (The Magicians). Production has already begun on the movie which is set to debut on the network in 2022. In the movie written by Nneka Gerstle, Parker will play widow Lila Jackson (Ari Parker) who is living with her autistic 14-year-old son (Sanchez), as they’re looked over by their kindly neighbor Neil (Kodjoe). From there, it turns into a home invasion movie with De Matteo and Astin playing murderous burglars who need to retrieve video evidence from a crime.

Madison Pettis, Vanessa Morgan and Richard Harmon have been cast in the horror film, Margaux, from Brad Krevoy‘s new company, Motion Picture Corporation of America aka MPCA.  Production will begin this summer in Vancouver, Canada for the film directed by Steven C. Miller (Silent Night, Escape Plan 2) from a script by exec. producers Nick Waters and Chris Beyrooty. The film is about a group of college friends who rent a smart house for a weekend of partying only to learn that the house’s super-advanced AI system “Margaux” has other plans for them.

Sarah Goldberg from HBO’s Barry, and Jimmy Akinbola (In the Long Run) have joined the UK thriller, Freegard, currently in production the UK. The cast is led by James Norton (Little Women), Gemma Arterton (The King’s Man), Shazad Latif (Star Trek Discovery), Marisa Abela, Edwina Findley, and Julian Barratt, in the movie based on real events about career conman, Robert Freegard, as played by Norton, with Arterton playing the woman who took him down. The script comes from Michael Bronner (The Mauritanian), Adam Patterson and Declan Lawn, the latter two who are also directing with Rabbit Track Pictures and The Development Partnership producing and Night Train Media backing.

Lastly, Jesse Williams (The Cabin In the Woods) is joining Paramount Pictures‘ Secret Headquarters, which currently stars Owen Wilson and Michael Pena.

In case you were unaware, subscribing to Below the Line‘s Production Listings is the best way to keep up with all the latest ins and outs of production restarting. They’re updated daily with new listings and updates as they’re announced.


Switching over to some TV news…

Amy Hartwick

Amy Hartwick (MPCA)

In exec. news, Amy Hartwick is joining the aforementioned Brad Krevoy company MPCA, as its President Of Television in charge of the company’s television initiative. A reboot of Damian Kindler‘s 2007 Syfy series, Sanctuary, and a limited series based on Adele Parks‘ book, Just My Luck, are two of the projects that are first up on MPCA’s slate.

Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage (Gossip Girl) have gotten a series order from Apple for their drama, City on Fire, based on Garth Risk Hallberg‘s novel. It’s the first series order for the duo’s first-look deal with Apple for their Fake Empire Productions, working with Apple Studios, with the eight-episode first season to be written by Schwartz and Savage with plans for it to debut on Apple TV+.  It’s about NYU student Samantha Cicciaro, who is shot in Central Park on the 4th of July in 2003, leaving no witnesses or evidence, and the secrets uncovered by the murder.

Actor Nadine Ellis (Let’s Stay Together) will star in the Fox drama Our Kind of People, based on Lawrence Otis Graham‘s book, Our Kind of People: Inside America’s Black Upper Class, playing the lead alongside Yaya DaCosta, Morris Chestnut and Joe Morton co-starring. It’s the latest project from Empire‘s Lee Daniels who is exec. producing along with writer Karin Gist. The series takes place in the aspirational world of Oak Bluffs on Martha’s Vineyard, a historical stronghold where the rich and powerful Black elite have come to play for more than 50 years with DaCosta playing single mother Angela Vaughn, who is trying to reclaim her family, and Ellis playing Leah Franklin-Dupont, replacing LeToya Luckett after a table read for the show.

Lightning round time…

Michael Stuhlbarg (Call Me By Your Name) is joining the HBO Max true-crime series, The Staircase, while Wunmi Mosaku from HBO’s Lovecraft Country is joining the HBO mini-series, We Own This City, from The Wire‘s David Simon and George Pelecanos, based on the Baltimore crime novel by Justin Fenton. Also, Costa Ronin (The Americans) is joining that Untitled Nick Wootton/Jake Coburn NBC drama pilot we’ve mentioned a few times over the past few weeks.


Our first trailer for the day is the first look at the Sony horror sequel, Don’t Breathe 2, which brings back Stephen Lang‘s blind Marine, Norman Nordstrom, who now has a young daughter (Madelyn Grace). When two men break into his home and threaten her, he’s forced to fight back. Original Director Fede Alvarez has shifted over to a producer role with his co-creator and co-writer Rodo Sayagues taking over the directing reins. The movie is scheduled for release on Friday, August 13.

Disney is having a bit of fun with the latest marketing for their upcoming movie, Jungle Cruise, which opens at the end of the month on July 30 by debuting “competing trailers” for the movie directed by Jaume Collet-Sera (The Shallows). First, Dwayne Johnson premiered the “Skipper Frank Trailer” which focuses almost entirely on his character in the movie…

And then, his co-star, Emily Blunt, decided to counter that with her own trailer, focusing almost solely on her character, Dr. Lily Houghton. It’s another fun way of getting the movie out to audiences and showing it to be an action-adventure throwback to (ironically enough) the Indiana Jones movies or maybe even Romancing the Stone.

Sony also released a second trailer for Sony Pictures Animation‘s animated sequel, Hotel Transylvania: Transformia, which was recently pushed back to October 1 from its original summer release. A lot of the cast is back, including stars Andy Samberg and Selena Gomez, but if you can’t tell by the voice, a certain “Sandman” is no longer a part of the franchise.

One movie that Sony didn’t keep on its slate through COVID is the Kay Cannon-directed musical fairy tale, Cinderella, which it sold off to Amazon Prime Video, which this past week debuted a first look teaser before its September 3 streaming release.

That’s it for this week! Have a great and safe Independence Day, and we’ll see you back on Tuesday for our “Over the Weekend” news column.