Paramount sues insurer over 7 ‘Mission: Impossible 7’ shutdowns

Cars enter and leave from a film studio's arched gates.
The Paramount Pictures gate in Los Angeles. The studio has joined others suing insurers over pandemic-related losses.
(Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

“Mission: Impossible 7” is an apt name for the latest installment of the Tom Cruise action film franchise.

The film was shut down seven times as a result of the pandemic and now Paramount Studios, the movie’s distributor and producer, is suing its insurance company to recover the sizable losses.

The Los Angeles studio sued Indiana-based Federal Insurance Co., owned by insurer Chubb Ltd., for breach of contract on its more than $100-million policy, according to a federal court lawsuit filed Monday in Los Angeles.

Paramount alleges the insurance company refused to cover a majority of its pandemic-linked claims. It is seeking punitive damages.

Laurie Taylor, spokesperson for Chubb, declined to comment.

The case is one of a growing number by film producers reeling from the pandemic. Studios have also had to shoulder increased costs to account for expensive COVID-19 safety protocols as well as nurse losses from production delays. Legal experts have been expecting that insurance would be a point of contention between insurers and studios as shooting ramped up amid the pandemic.

Productions usually take out insurance policies that cover illness or death among the cast and crew as well as coverage for so-called civil authority, which is when authorities stop productions from filming in certain locations for a variety of reasons.

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Paramount said it had bought a policy to cover losses incurred from delays and disruptions in the production of “Mission: Impossible 7” from September 3, 2019, to December 31, 2021. The policy included $100 million in cast coverage, $1 million for civil authority coverage and $1 million for delays beyond control coverage, according to the suit.

Paramount described in its suit the tortured process of trying to keep the movie running during the pandemic.

It was one of the biggest movies forced to halt production during filming in Europe in February 2020 after someone became ill. The film moved from Venice to Rome but then Italy forced it to close as the whole country went into lockdown in March. Shooting resumed in July only to stop again in October. Despite attempts at filming in the United Kingdom and Abu Dhabi, the project experienced seven shutdowns in 18 months, Paramount said.

Tom Cruise made headlines last winter after berating crew members for standing too close to each other. Cruise and the producers had been attempting to film both the seventh and eighth installments back to back, Deadline reported. “Mission: Impossible 7” is now due out May 2022.

Federal told Paramount that the $100-million cast coverage was not available for most of the remaining portions of the losses, the studio said in the complaint. Federal claimed that the studio could only claim losses from the pandemic, under the policy’s civil authority coverage, and capped payouts at $1 million. The insurer also said the various suspensions in productions and the relocations accounted for just one loss. It did not cover the additional costs for complying with COVID-19 safety protocols and refused to pay for losses linked to testing for cast and crew, according to the lawsuit.

Earlier this summer, Fireman’s Fund Insurance Co. sued Walt Disney Co. over demands that it pay $10 million in claims for certain delays of film and TV productions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, the L.A. production company behind the Ben Affleck heist thriller “Hypnotic” sued its insurance company in September for refusing to extend coverage without excluding losses linked to COVID-19.

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