LOS ANGELES – Tyler Perry is planning to make his Atlanta-based mega studio one of the first domestic filming grounds to reopen during the coronavirus pandemic. But while Perry is looking to restart production in July, other studios in Georgia and beyond are anxiously waiting for Hollywood’s green light.
“We’re taking the lead from our production partners,” said Frank Patterson, president of the sprawling Pinewood Studios, located in suburban Atlanta. The studio has been home to big-budget films such as “The Avengers: Endgame” and “Ant-Man” along with the television show “The Walking Dead."
“There’s not one place in the industry that’s making the decisions about when we get back to work,” he continued. “There are a lot of stakeholders. We’re working with the task forces of the studios and the guilds, unions and the associations. Just listening to everyone and making certain that when the industry decides it’s time to go back to work, that Pinewood Studios will be ready.”
Georgia has become known as the Hollywood of the South with a surge of film and TV productions companies and several studios opening up over the past several years. The entertainment industry shuttered productions in March because of safety concerns during the coronavirus pandemic. With Los Angeles County still under stay-at-home orders and production shutdown, some are looking to Georgia as a possible destination to film.
After Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp declared that nonessential businesses in the state could reopen in late April, Perry emerged with a strategic plan to reopen his massive 330-acre studio, which has become a production powerhouse rivaling Hollywood’s best.
Perry believes he’s ready to move forward at Tyler Perry Studios to produce his own content such as the BET series “Sistas” and “The Oval.” The Hollywood Reporter obtained a 30-page production protocol document to cast, detailing health measures from testing in their hometown, traveling on a Perry-arranged private jet and doing another rapid test.
Many in the industry want to see how Perry’s protocol will unfold. The Screen Actors Guild said in a statement that it's uncertain when production will return.
“You’re going to have some discomfort at first that’s eventually broken by those who just want to kind of get back to the way things were,” said Kevin Hart, who filmed several projects in Atlanta including “Night School" and “Jumanji." The actor-comedian said he would be willing to fly from his home in Los Angeles to Georgia to film if it’s a “plan that we vetted out.”