The Batman has, once again, seen its production paused. While momentum seemed to be on the side of Warner’s latest Caped Crusader movie reboot effort, which just got back into production after a pandemic-pushed shutdown back in March, the positive COVID test of star Robert Pattinson himself has abruptly put a boot on the wheel of its Batmobile.
Warner Bros. officially halted production on The Batman in Leavesden Studios in Leavesden, Hertfordshire, England. While the studio was initially mum about the identity or even job designation of the positive COVID case, a report from Vanity Fair identifies it as Pattinson. The pause occurs just days after director Matt Reeves resumed rolling cameras, initially accompnied by a matter-of-fact statement from Warner on the move, explaining:
“A member of The Batman production has tested positive for Covid-19, and is isolating in accordance with established protocols. Filming is temporarily paused.”
The now-nixed resumed production of The Batman was one of the bigger announcements to have come out of the recent DC FanDome virtual event, accompanied by the exciting reveal of the film’s first trailer. Thus, there is undoubtedly a sense of disappointment resonating right now among the cast and crew over this heralded anticlimactic false start, especially since it sidelines the film’s headliner. Yet, the positive case is hardly the first time that COVID directly impacted the film, with the aforementioned March shutdown having led to the late-April move by Warner to push the film’s release date farther back from its already-far-off release date of June 25, 2021 all the way to October 1, 2021.
The move occurs during an interestingly ambiguous stage of the pandemic, with the threat still prevalent, but some seeing an endpoint, motivated by early whispers of a vaccine possibly arriving before the year’s end. Yet, some productions have become a proverbial Punxsutawney Phil, who an entire industry hopes will cast no shadow to indicate an early spring of sorts. Notable examples of this are director Colin Trevorrow’s trilogy-closing Jurassic World: Dominion and James Cameron’s ambitious four-film Avatar sequel endeavor, both of which are in production in the U.K. at Pinewood Studios and New Zealand, respectively. Yet, Dominion’s recent return to production was accompanied by an array of photos showcasing not only some of its new dinosaurs, but, pertinently, the on-set quarantine measures for which $5 million was reportedly spent.
Consequently, while the COVID-free status of Universal’s Dominion is still a knock-on-wood scenario susceptible to a similarly-embarrassing positive test result, its measures—with isolation booths, anti-viral vapors and on-site doctors and nurses—might be seen as an example of what Warner needs to implement with The Batman before Pattinson’s hopefully-speedy recovery facilitates the cameras rolling once again. However, it remains unclear if the film—having already lost five-and-a-half valuable months of production—is simply in the midst of (per the statement,) a temporary pause to assess possible spread, or if the studio has cold feet and ultimately decides to put the production through another lengthy hiatus. Indeed, if Pattinson proves to be an isolated case, then shooting might continue on with the rest of the cast.
For now, The Batman is still scheduled to hit theaters on October 1, 2021. Even with this latest setback, there still might be a feasible window in which director Matt Reeves and company can complete the picture. However, it will be interesting to see if Warner decides that a little extra caution and perhaps a fear of superhero cinema saturation justifies another pushback on the premiere.