If you want a safe space to make a blockbuster movie, Pinewood Atlanta is the place. Some of us have seen a movie that was made there. Their list of credits includes Ant-Man and the Wasp, Avengers: Endgame, and Zombieland: Double Tap.
With 700 acres and 18 sound stages, Pinewood lets people social distance.
But it still won’t be simple.
Making a Movie Safely
Before the stars arrive, the set designers, painters, carpenters, and producers start their Covid-19 testing. They all get a health tracker app and door opening badges that only work for healthy people. Each day everyone receives colored wristbands that show they are okay. Naturally, once the entire group is there, the monitoring continues. It is also likely that their scripts will change with visual effects replacing “intimate moments” and fewer extras.
Pinewood’s planners said that timely testing is one of their biggest challenges. A decentralized public, private, and academic lab network makes it difficult to secure the speediest results. Their solution has been hiring middlemen and women to oversee lab selection and timing.
Our Bottom Line: The Reopening Cost
As economists, we can look at film making in a pandemic world through a land, labor, and capital lens. Just like all goods and services are made from these three factors of production, so too are movies. To facilitate social distancing, you need a lot of land. With capital, we are talking about adding a layer of human and physical capital that relates to safe procedures and equipment. Similarly, new labor will have expertise and daily responsibilities that have nothing to do with film making.
Thinking of cost, the economic definition is sacrifice. At Pinewood Atlanta, the sacrifice will be money and time. They’ve said that the monthly testing tab will exceed $1.5 million. Beyond that total, we can only imagine how much extra money and time safety will require.
Where are we? Even more, I worry about reopening our schools when I see what it takes to make a movie safely.
My sources and more: Yesterday morning, the daily WSJ podcast alerted me to the reopening cost for film makers. From there, my next stop was the related WSJ article and then, I took a look at the Pinewood Atlanta site.