COVID-19 hits Gotham: Filming of ‘The Batman’ is shut down after star tests positive

Robert Pattinson is the star of Warner Bros. new reboot "The Batman"
Robert Pattinson is the star of Warner Bros. new reboot “The Batman”
(Jay L. Clendenin/Los Angeles Times)

Warner Bros.’ much anticipated revival “The Batman” was halted after the star of the production tested positive for COVID-19, making it one of the highest profile sets to be hobbled by the health crisis.

The Batman himself, Robert Pattinson, is the person infected, according to a person familiar with the production who was not authorized to comment.

Vanity Fair first reported the actor had tested positive. A representative for Pattinson could not be reached for comment.


Filming, which had restarted in Britain on Sept. 1, is now paused, the Burbank-based studio confirmed. It did not comment on who was infected and how they caught the virus.

The action movie is one of the biggest productions to get back to filming since a global shutdown of the industry in March. “The Batman,” the latest reboot of the DC Comics character, had been on hold since March, when countries initiated restrictions on gatherings in the wake of the pandemic.

John Nolan, an assistant director who died last week after a battle with COVID-19, worked on a commercial shoot in Texas.

Sept. 1, 2020

The new hiatus shows the difficulties Hollywood faces in trying to resume filming as the pandemic persists. Studios, which have major movie productions not only to complete but to launch, have been delaying release dates for films.

Most of the activity in Los Angeles has involved shoots for commercials and other small productions, but some crew members have been pushing for more stringent safety protocols. The death of a crew member after a commercial shoot in Austin, Texas last month has divided many in the film community over whether it is safe enough to resume filming.

Other stars such as “The Rock” have recently disclosed that they contracted COVID-19. Actor Tom Hanks was the first international celebrity to announce a positive test result for the coronavirus in March. He and his wife, Rita Wilson, contracted the virus in Australia, where they were hospitalized and recovered.

“The Batman” had been set for release on June 25, 2021, but that has since been pushed back to Oct. 1, 2021. Universal Pictures had to scale back some of its filming plans on “Jurassic World: Dominion,” one of the first major movies to return to filming, after three British crew members working in Malta tested positive for COVID-19.

Robert Pattinson in "The Batman."
Robert Pattinson in “The Batman.”
(Warner Bros. Pictures/DC Comics)

Unlike “The Batman,” it did not have to shut down. The cast of the dinosaur movie has been in quarantine throughout the duration of the shoot, confined to a hotel near the set that was booked by the studio for 20 weeks, according to a person familiar with the production who was not authorized to comment.

Film sets are crowded, with more than 100 people working close together, often without masks for performers. Studios face hundreds of thousands of dollars of losses per day if a shoot is shutdown. Countries have been in a race to prove they are safe for film crews.

The “Avatar” sequels have already resumed filming in New Zealand, where the disease has almost been eradicated.

Britain, which has become a major hub for filming from studios such as Walt Disney and Netflix, this week announced it will invest hundreds of millions of dollars into plans for rapid testing. The death rate in Britain is much lower than in the U.S., falling to 13 a day.

In California, while new cases are falling and the state is lifting restrictions on gatherings, the daily death rate remains well above 100. Few major film shoots have been able to restart in the state. Some larger TV shows, such as “The Bold and the Beautiful,” have been filming.

Health officials warn the reopenings come with warnings as the virus remains widespread in the community.

Sept. 3, 2020

The entertainment union SAG-AFTRA requires that actors who can’t wear masks and anyone who is in contact with them be tested every three days to prevent outbreaks on set.

However, an alliance of movie studios has yet to agree to detailed terms for safety and pay rates in cases of shutdowns or delays caused by the coronavirus.