It’s obviously among the least of the problems caused by the pandemic, but COVID really did a number on Hollywood. Release dates are still being shuffled around. Theaters are still nowhere near what they once were (unless it’s about a young guy in spandex). The actual filming of movies has been greatly impacted, too. Just look at Mission: Impossible 7, which took just over a year to film thanks to all the COVID-related calamities that plagued the shoot. Now we’ve learned those issues alone added a ton to an already jaw-dropping budget.
As per Variety, movie theater owners gathering for the annual CinemaCon in Las Vegas were treated to behind-the-scenes footage from the seventh in a series that dates back to the Clinton era. What they also saw was the budget, all $290 million of it. That’s far from the most expensive movie ever made. That honor still goes to Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides ($379 million). M:I 7 would only place sixth, behind Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End and Justice League, tied for fifth at $300 million each.
Still, M:I 7‘s budget was tens of millions more than the money people expected to spend. (For perspective, the series’ previous entry, 2017’s Fallout, cost a mere $190 million.) So what accounted for that massive uptick? You can thank the pandemic:
A significant factor in this budget escalation is that “Mission: Impossible 7” was initially scheduled to begin shooting in Venice in February 2020, but it had to stop and start production seven different times, insiders said. Day one of principal photography, which was supposed to involve an elaborate action sequence staged during the Carnival Venice, an annual festival renowned for its elaborate masks, took place on the same day that Northern Italy went into COVID-19 lockdown. The production then scrambled to move shooting to Rome, only to once again be forced to shut down when cases spiked.
The hits kept coming. They finally started shooting in early September of 2020, but each time they shut down — despite star Tom Cruise’s well-publicized attempts to keep the virus at bay — they had to pay for cast and crew to quarantine. And there was more:
There are also costs associated with having to shut down streets and canals in major cities, such as Rome and Venice, only have to scrap those plans and reschedule them. Though the film’s backers tried to be nimble, the complexity of mounting an international production, one that hopscotched across a half-dozen countries including Poland and the United Arab Emirates, meant that no matter how hard the “Mission: Impossible” team tried, it couldn’t outrun a pandemic that knows no borders. Further complicating matters were global supply chain issues, other insiders added, which brought unforeseen costs via lumber and additional materials.
Eventually Paramount wound up shouldering an additional $50 million after its production company partner, Skydance, reached the limit they could spend, leaving the studio to pony up or else. To make matters worse, they wound up delaying the film from Sept. 30, 2022, until July 14, 2023, blaming it on “delays due to the ongoing pandemic.”
Then there’s still Mission: Impossible 8, now being released June 28, 2024 (previously due July of 2023) and which is supposed to be the “culmination” of Cruise’s stint as Ethan Hunt. And, of course, they still have to shoot that one.