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Why Warner Bros. Wasn't Shocked When 'The Batman' Shut Down

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CinemaBlend
September 4, 2020

The highly anticipated new Batman movie that had barely begun to film when the global pandemic forced a shutdown was back at work recently, but now has been forced to shutdown a second time as star Robert Pattinson has reportedly tested positive for COVID-19. As the first major film production to see such a positive test, and with the film's star no less, a lot of people are in shock right now. However, it seems that the folks at Warner Bros. are keeping something of a level head about the whole thing, as the CEO admits there was an expectation that something like this would happen.


While Warner Bros. CEO Ann Sarnoff would not confirm to THR that the person who tested positive on The Batman set was Robert Pattinson for privacy reasons, she says that the fact that a positive test has happened on the film doesn't really change the way that the studio was going back to work. There was, to some extent, an expectation that things would not go perfectly, and so there are already procedures in place for how to deal with the fact that there was a positive test. According to Sarnoff...


"I think we never expected things to go completely smoothly. In fact, as we’ve been getting our protocols ready, we built in contingencies. If someone tests positive, you do contact tracing, you pause, you evaluate, and come back when you can. I think it would have been naïve to think we wouldn’t have certain cases on certain productions. The most important thing is to be ready for when that happens. And we were very much ready."


Ann Sarnoff goes on to say that she doesn't see things getting back to normal anytime soon, not until we have a "medical solution," meaning either a vaccine or that the virus simply runs its course until we reach a point of herd immunity. Until then things like film productions will simply need to be handled as safely as possible, which still contains some degree of risk.


Certainly, this is the most pragmatic view one can probably have, and so from a business standpoint, it makes a lot of sense. If you expect to hit hurdles like these as the studio goes back to work, then you'll be able to handle things better when they happen. If one assumes things will be perfect, you'll be left flat-footed when they are not.


At this point, there is no expectation of when The Batman might resume filming. Ann Sarnoff says that contact tracing will be done to see who the infected person, whomever it may be, came in contact with. If this one case was able to be kept isolated from the rest of the crew then it may just be a case of letting the virus run its course for this one person and then moving on. Otherwise, we could see this process take a lot longer if a lot of people ended up infected.