Friday, March 31, 2023

‘Mission: Impossible 7’ Shutdowns Trigger COVID-19 Insurance Lawsuit

Paramount sued its insurer on Monday for refusing to cover the vast majority of its losses due to pandemic-related shutdowns on “Mission: Impossible 7.”

According to the suit, the studio’s insurer, Chubb, has said it will pay only $1 million for COVID-19 losses under its “civil authority” policy. Production was delayed seven times between February 2020 and June 2021, at least six of which were the result of the pandemic.

Paramount had a “cast insurance” policy for the production, with a $100 million coverage limit. Such insurance is intended to cover losses that result when a film’s key personnel — such as star Tom Cruise or director Christopher McQuarrie — is unavailable due to sickness, death or kidnapping.

Paramount maintains that the pandemic-related shutdowns should have triggered that provision of the policy, because the shutdowns were intended to protect the cast from getting sick.

Chubb, however, has maintained that the COVID shutdowns are covered only under the studio’s “civil authority” policy, which covers costs that are the result of government-mandated shutdowns. That policy carries a $1 million limit.

Production was initially set to begin in Venice, Italy, on Feb. 24, 2020. At the time, the studio cited local authorities’ ban on public gatherings and said it was postponing the shoot “out of an abundance of caution.”

However, according to the lawsuit, the production actually shut down because one of the people covered under the cast insurance policy had become sick. The suit does not name that person — though it would have to have been someone irreplaceable — and it does not say whether the person got COVID or some other illness. A Paramount spokesperson declined to comment, citing the privacy of health information.

Chubb paid out $5 million under the cast insurance policy in connection with that delay, according to the suit.

Production was then set to begin in March, but was pushed to July due to Italian government restrictions. In October 2020, there were two separate outbreaks on set — one in Rome and one in Venice — each of which caused further delays.

In December 2020, Cruise famously exploded on set in the U.K. when he saw two crew members standing close to each other near a computer monitor. He threatened to fire anyone seen breaking COVID protocols.

“You can tell it to the people who are losing their f—ing homes because our industry is shut down,” he said at the time, in audio leaked to The Sun newspaper. “It’s not going to put food on their table or pay for their college education. That’s what I sleep with every night – the future of this f—ing industry! So I’m sorry, I am beyond your apologies. I have told you, and now I want it, and if you don’t do it, you’re out. We are not shutting this f—ing movie down! Is it understood? If I see it again, you’re f—ing gone.”

Production halted two more times, once in February 2021 when cases surged in the U.K. In June 2021, another COVID outbreak on set caused yet another shutdown. The production also experienced a delay when the U.K. government imposed a quarantine on crew members returning from a shoot in Abu Dhabi.

The suit does not state how much Paramount is seeking, other than to say that the $5 million payout represents a “small portion” of its total losses.

“Mission: Impossible 7” is due to be released on May 27, 2022.


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