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Working during the pandemic has obviously been hard for everyone, and the movie and TV industry is no exception. After shutting down for several months, the top Hollywood studios and guilds agreed on a set of safety protocols for production in September 2020, not long after “Jurassic World Dominion” became one of the first major films to resume shooting (and helping to provide a model for others to follow). Those protocols have been tweaked and extended many times since then, with the latest iteration expected to stay in place until mid-February amidst the spike in cases attributed to the omicron variant.

With health and safety being the top priorities, a number of shows or films have been forced to halt production lately due to outbreaks among their cast and crew. Recent examples include CBS’ “NCIS” and Paramount+’s “Star Trek: Picard,” the latter of which shut down after, alarmingly, more than 50 employees tested positive, including cast members from zone A. (Per the Screen Actors Guild, “Zone A is any perimeter within which activity occurs without physical distancing or the use of PPE. In most cases, this will mean performers working on set with no protection alongside crew.”)

According to THR, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” has now joined the ranks of movies that recently paused filming due to an outbreak of cases among its staff. Adding insult to injury, this news arrives just as the MCU sequel was due to restart production after going on a hiatus to allow co-star Letitia Wright the time she needed to recover from an injury she suffered while performing a stunt in August 2021.

All’s (Still) Not Well In Wakanda

While the plan was for “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” to resume filming in Atlanta this past week, that was before “several cast and crew members” tested positive for Covid-19, including co-star Lupita Nyong’o. This development is all the more jarring coming a mere five days after a spokesperson for Wright confirmed she had returned to the States after recuperating at her home in London, adding that, “Filming [on ‘Wakanda Forever’] resumed this month as planned, and we’re on schedule.”

“Wakanda Forever” reunites most of the main cast from the first “Black Panther” movie, with the heartbreaking exception of the late Chadwick Boseman, who tragically passed away from colon cancer in August 2020. Later that same year, during Disney’s Investor Day presentation, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige confirmed the film would not recast Boseman as T’Challa and would instead shift its focus to the other residents of Wakanda, including T’Challa’s former lover Nakia (Nyong’o) and sister Shuri (Wright). Returning “Black Panther” director Ryan Coogler and his co-writer Joe Robert Cole haven’t taken the task of continuing without Boseman lightly either, seeing as they penned as many as five different incarnations of the “Wakanda Forever” script before shooting even began in June 2021.

If Boseman’s death and the pandemic weren’t enough, Coogler and his team have also had to deal with obstacles like the public pressure on them to move production on “Wakanda Forever” out of Atlanta in response to the restrictive new voting laws Georgia passed last year, as well as the controversy around Wright’s anti-vaccine views and her refusal to be vaccinated before she left the States (which threatened to create further logical problems for the sequel). For now, though, it remains to be seen how the film is affected by its prolonged shut-down.

Pending any future changes, “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” will open in theaters on November 11, 2022.

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