Benedict Cumberbatch explains the efforts taken to avoid Doctor Strange 2 shutting down production during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Benedict Cumberbatch explains the efforts taken to avoid Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness shutting down production during the COVID-19 pandemic. The upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe sequel will see Cumberbatch return as the titular sorcerer as he accidentally unleashes an unspeakable evil and must face off against a friend-turned-enemy. The film will also see the returns of Benedict Wong as Wong, Rachel McAdams as Christine Palmer and Chiwetel Ejiofor as Karl Mordo while Elizabeth Olsen’s Wanda Maximoff will continue her story from WandaVision and Xochitl Gomez will introduce the world to America Chavez.
Development on Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness began shortly after the release of its predecessor with co-writer/director Scott Derrickson set to return alongside co-writer C. Robert Cargill. The duo would depart the project in 2020 due to creative differences with Marvel Studios for the film, with Loki creator Michael Waldron joining the film a month after Derrickson’s departure to start from scratch on a script with new director Sam Raimi. Production would finally kick off in November 2020 in London and after a brief halt from the U.K.’s mandated COVID-19 lockdown would continue this past March and as it nears its conclusion, Cumberbatch is looking back on the long journey to make the film.
Cumberbatch recently sat down with The Hollywood Reporter to discuss his roster of upcoming projects, including Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. In reflecting on filming the MCU sequel during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Oscar nominee opened up about the extensive efforts taken to ensure production never shut down and his amazement at the crew’s efforts off the set to remain healthy. See what Cumberbatch said below:
“I lost count of how many lockdowns we actually filmed through. With this government-approved gold standard testing and tracing and temperature taking and PCR and lateral flow tests. But it worked. And 500-plus crew came back after Christmas, and there was not one single positive test. We never stopped it. I got taken off, because of someone near me getting a false positive. But that was it. People made such sacrifices. Some of their children were going to school, and they weren’t necessarily going to be sleeping in the same part of the house, or even in the same house. I was really, really blown away by that.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly taken a toll on the filmmaking process in Hollywood for the past year, with some finding their release and productions delayed numerous times while others have found themselves scrapped completely over concerns of costs, notable examples including Netflix’s I Am Not Okay With This, The Society and GLOW. Though the train that is the MCU can’t truly be stopped, the studio is certainly not insensitive in plotting their productions around tragedies, as evidenced by Black Panther: Wakanda Forever extending its development cycle in the wake of Chadwick Boseman’s passing, and their efforts to keep the Doctor Strange sequel on schedule is no different. While a studio protecting their talent and production may sound par for the course, especially on a blockbuster project, some films that attempted to begin shooting early into the pandemic found themselves in hot water with unions for their disregard for safety, namely Songbird.
It should also be noted that big-budget productions are not always immune to COVID-19 shutdowns, as seen numerous times with Mission: Impossible 7. This all makes production on Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness that much more impressive for its ability to avoid any positive tests even after a holiday break. Though no official wrap date has been set for the sequel, Olsen recently concluded shooting on the film and Wong is set to finish his filming this month, giving Raimi and Marvel plenty of time to put it all together ahead of its March 25, 2022 release.
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- Eternals (2021)Release date: Nov 05, 2021
- Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)Release date: Dec 17, 2021
- Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022)Release date: Mar 25, 2022
- Thor: Love and Thunder (2022)Release date: May 06, 2022
- Black Panther: Wakanda Forever/Black Panther 2 (2022)Release date: Jul 08, 2022
- The Marvels/Captain Marvel 2 (2022)Release date: Nov 11, 2022
- Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023)Release date: May 05, 2023
- Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania (2023)Release date: Feb 17, 2023
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