Filming of The Batman continued in Liverpool today despite the imminent ‘Tier Three’ lockdown, as locals questioned why Hollywood appears exempt from coronavirus restrictions.
Robert Pattinson and Colin Farrell, who will play Bruce Wayne and the villainous Penguin respectively, were both on set this morning as the council insisted the new rules, set to devastate a host of businesses, would not impact on filming in the city.
However, locked-down Liverpudlians were left angry and confused that filming was allowed to carry on while workplaces are being told to close and large gatherings are drastically scaled-down or cancelled altogether.
Taking to social media, one wrote: ‘There were hundreds in Liverpool today filming the new Batman movie, no masks, no social distancing; this is perfectly acceptable yet we can’t get married, go to a funeral or visit a relative in a care home!’
Boris Johnson yesterday announced that Liverpool had reached a local Covid alert level of ‘very high’, with a number of rules designed to limit further spread of the virus set to come into force from tomorrow.
Guidance on the government website explaining the changes does not directly reference the film industry, only advising ‘closing performing arts venues for the purposes of performing to audiences’, suggesting no concerns over filming for projects such as Matt Reeves’ £100million blockbuster.
While bosses could not comment on The Batman specifically, a spokeswoman for Liverpool City Council insisted the show must go on in terms of filming generally, despite concerns from locals and suggestions of hypocrisy when dozens of other workplaces are being ordered to close.
She told MailOnline: ‘The new restrictions in Liverpool will not impact on filming in the city.
‘The Film Office are working closely with every single production to ensure covid-safe measures are in place and are being adhered.’
Colin Farrell (pictured left) and Robert Pattinson (pictured right) were once again involved in filming of The Batman in Liverpool today, despite the imminent ‘Tier Three’ lockdown
Despite pledges that Covid-safe measures have been outlined and there is pressure to make sure they are being followed, including crew wearing face coverings, many expressed concern over the apparent lack of social distancing during the filming
Guidance on the government website explaining the changes does not directly reference the film industry, only advising ‘closing performing arts venues for the purposes of performing to audiences’, suggesting no concerns over filming for projects such as Matt Reeves’ multi-million-pound blockbuster
Liverpool City Council insisted the new rules, set to devastate a host of businesses, would not impact on filming in the city
Colin Farrell has makeup put on for his role as Penguin during filming of The Batman in Liverpool city centre earlier this morning
Robert Pattinson walks down the steps outside St George’s Hall in Liverpool as filming continued today despite the city being placed in a Tier Three lockdown
While bosses could not comment on The Batman specifically, a spokeswoman for Liverpool City Council insisted the show must go on in terms of filming generally, despite concerns from locals and suggestions of hypocrisy when dozens of other workplaces are being ordered to close
Flowers, pictured left, and actors and extras holding signs, pictured right, during the filming of The Batman taking place in Liverpool on Tuesday, despite imminent new restrictions
Another frustrated local questioned: ‘Wonder if they’ll stop filming Batman (with their hundreds of extras in Liverpool now it’s in tier 3 lockdown…or is it just small businesses affected?’
A third added: ‘They shouldn’t be there in the first place. We’re in tier 3 lockdown so if the government want us to follow the rules Hollywood actors and the crew should also be following the rules and technically shouldn’t be filming in Liverpool whilst in lockdown. Batman can suck it.’
The new rules mean people will only be allowed out of ‘Tier Three’ areas for essential travel such as for work, education or health, and must return before the end of the day – although the rules will be guidance rather than legally enforced.
They cannot mix with other households in gardens, but can in outdoor public spaces subject to the Rule of Six.
Restaurants will be allowed to open, but only in line with the national curfew, and can serve alcohol as long as someone is having a ‘substantial’ meal, according to No10.
Where businesses are forced to shut, the Government will pay two thirds of each employee’s salary, up to a maximum of £2,100 a month. Mr Johnson said the total support on offer would be around £1billion.
Liverpool is the only area in the top bracket so far, and the city is going further than the basic restrictions by closing leisure centres, gyms, betting shops and casinos. Mr Johnson hinted last night that other hotspots were resisting, swiping that failing to agree to crackdowns would be ‘unforgivable’.
Liverpool mayor Joe Anderson tweeted to say he had been told ‘no buts’ over what would be imposed on his city.
‘Let’s be clear that having ignored my pleas for over a month, the Government now blame us, and impose ‘lockdown by diktat’ without a full financial package and support for businesses we are levelling down not levelling up,’ he said.
‘We will continue to stand up for our local businesses.’
It was revealed last week that filming had started on the highly anticipated movie, after the cinema release date was delayed until 2022 due to fears over the pandemic.
Warner Bros. vans have been spotted in the city centre as workmen hauled props into St George’s Hall.
Filming for the £100million movie is expected to last around a week with roughly 100 actors and crew sticking to strict quarantining rules.
Before relocating to Liverpool to shoot for the blockbuster, production workers were working in the relatively low risk COVID-19 area of Leavesden in Hertfordshire.
One frustrated social media user wrote: ‘There were hundreds in Liverpool today filming the new Batman movie, no masks, no social distancing; this is perfectly acceptable yet we can’t get married, go to a funeral or visit a relative in a care home!’
A third added: ‘They shouldn’t be there in the first place. We’re in tier 3 lockdown so if the government want us to follow the rules Hollywood actors and the crew should also be following the rules and technically shouldn’t be filming in Liverpool whilst in lockdown. Batman can suck it’
How England breaks down in new COVID tiers
TIER THREE – VERY HIGH RISK
Liverpool City Region
Liverpool, Knowsley, Wirral, St Helens, Sefton, Halton
TIER TWO – HIGH RISK
Cheshire West and Chester, Cheshire East
Manchester, Bolton, Bury, Stockport, Tameside, Trafford, Wigan, Salford, Rochdale, Oldham,
High Peak – the wards of Tintwistle, Padfield, Dinting, St John’s – Old Glossop, Whitfield, Simmondley, Gamesley, Howard Town, Hadfield South, Hadfield North
Lancashire, Blackpool, Preston, Blackburn with Darwen, Burnley
Leeds, Bradford, Kirklees, Calderdale, Wakefield South
Barnsley, Rotherham, Doncaster, Sheffield
Newcastle, South Tyneside, North Tyneside, Gateshead, Sunderland, Durham, Northumberland
Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland, Stockton-on-Tees, Darlington, Hartlepool
Birmingham, Sandwell, Solihull, Wolverhampton, Walsall
Leicester, Oadby and Wigston
Nottinghamshire, Nottingham City
TIER ONE – MEDIUM RISK
Rest of England
One insider told MailOnline: ‘Quite a few of us are surprised to say the least that around 100 people based in a film studio in Hertfordshire are being asked to go to a high risk area in the North West.
‘However to be fair to the production company they do test for coronavirus.
‘We have been told it is strictly work, eat and sleep. We even have to eat meals alone in our hotels rooms. Despite it being a Hollywood film, it is not exactly glamorous.’
Last week, studio workers were seen erecting the set at St George’s Hall which will double as Gotham City Hall.
A sign which read ‘City Hall’ could be seen in the entrance to St George’s and an old fashioned red and white car was parked nearby.
One worker said at the time: ‘It’s just prep work at the moment. We certainly haven’t seen Robert Pattinson or anyone else yet but it will start very soon.’
The Batman was forced to delay filming last month when its lead star contracted coronavirus, parts of which were due to be shot in the Liverpool location.
An insider told MailOnline: ‘Today is the first day the main production unit has returned to filming and there seem to be no other hiccups at the moment.’
Meanwhile, a Warner Bros. Pictures spokesperson confirmed: ‘Following a hiatus for COVID 19 quarantine precautions, filming has now resumed on The Batman in the U.K.’
The source added that a significant part of the film was supposed to be shot in Liverpool but due to coronavirus the shoot had been cancelled and re-arranged several times, shifting the completion date for the project back even further.
Liverpool will play an important role in The Batman as American filmmaker Matt Reeves, who is directing the upcoming superhero film, revealed recently at DC FanDome, a virtual convention held by DC Comics and Warner Bros.
During an interview, he confirmed Liverpool would be the backbone for Gotham City as they shoot the remaining 75 per cent of the film.
In September, MailOnline revealed that production crew were ‘working round the clock’ to try and film scenes without Robert after he contracted COVID-19 and was forced to self-isolate for two weeks.
The Hollywood actor, who was understood to have turned up on set with a temperature, had to stay away from filming for 14 days while he recovered.
It came amid fears that halting production could cost as much as £5 million with the film’s director Reeves trying to film as much as he could at the Warner Bros. Studio in Leavesden, Hertfordshire, without the leading man.
Any of the 130-strong crew who did not have direct contact with Pattinson were asked to return to work and sets that had been prepared were moved from studio G to another studio.
‘Anything that can be shot and does not involved Pattinson will now go ahead,’ a set insider told MailOnline at the time.
‘That includes scenes with his body double. The aim is to get as much done as possible before he returns and the hope is that none of the other actors get the virus.
‘Crew can be replaced as most are freelance and hired for the duration of the shoot but it would be disastrous if another major actor gets the virus.
‘Production staff are working round the clock to get things moving and allow some filming to take place.’
MailOnline revealed how The Batman was thrown into chaos after Pattinson tested positive for COVID-19.
He had arrived at the studio and told the on-set nurse he had an ‘elevated temperature.’
A subsequent electronic temperature test meant he was sent home and told to undergo a test for the virus.
The Batman is the latest blockbuster to be delayed because of coronavirus, raising fresh doubts over the future of hundreds of UK cinemas.
Last Monday, Warner Brothers said it would push back the release of the superhero epic, starring Twilight actor Robert Pattinson, from October 2021 until spring 2022.
It also revealed that sci-fi film Dune, has been postponed from December to October next year. Cinemas now face an existential threat from a drought of big releases.
On Monday Cineworld shut all its 128 UK cinemas, putting 5,500 jobs at risk, until the spring after the release of the latest James Bond movie, No Time to Die, was postponed.
Odeon has said it will only open 30 of 120 sites at weekends. Social distancing coupled with people’s fears of catching the virus mean most viewers are staying at home.
Tenet, directed by Christopher Nolan, took $300million (£228million) – much less than his previous film Dunkirk, which took £400million.
The subdued response spooked executives and sparked a rash of postponements.
Warner Bros. has been approached for comment on the ongoing filming.