A ban on Hollywood sets using real weapons? After the tragedy of “Rust”, it could happen

This is the October 25, 2021 edition of Wide Shot, a weekly newsletter on all that is happening in the entertainment business. Sign up here to have it delivered to your inbox.

When someone dies on a movie or television set, regardless of the budget or independence of the production in question, it’s time for Hollywood to rethink how it handles the inherently dangerous aspects of creating entertainment. massive.

As law enforcement investigates the murder of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins in a gun incident on the set of “Rust” in New Mexico, details of the tragedy are still being learned. .

Hutchins’ death quickly spurred demand for real weapons, like the one owned and unloaded by Alec Baldwin during the filming of “Rust,” to be phased out of film and television sets.

A Change.org petition to ban the use of live firearms in productions has more than 27,000 signatures after it was shared by actress and director Olivia Wilde and others. “Hollywood: it’s time to create the” Halyna law “” Wilde tweeted.

California State Senator Dave Cortese (D-San Jose), chairman of the Senate Labor Committee, said he would introduce legislation banning live ammunition and firearms capable of firing live ammunition at from cinematographic and theatrical productions.

Props for a theatrical production of “Coriolanus” lie on a table backstage at Commonwealth Shakespeare in Boston. The shooting death of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins on set in New Mexico has rekindled concerns about propeller pistols.

(Boston Globe via Getty Images)

There also seems to be a real dynamic of internal reform in the entertainment sector. Major studios are reviewing their weapons policies, people familiar with the matter told The Times. ABC’s “The Rookie” proceeding banned shooting live ammunition on the show.

A broader ban on live weapons is enjoying growing support among producers, many of whom already view blank firing as an unnecessary risk. Mouth flashes, for example, are easy and inexpensive to add with special effects in post-production.

“I see no reason for us to have real guns on set,” independent filmmaker Graham Skipper told colleagues Anousha Sakoui and Josh Rottenberg. “A person on a computer with the most basic editing software can do mouth flashes. We’re not talking about the “Jurassic Park” dinosaurs here.

On Monday, I asked all the major studios if they were considering banning real guns. So far, none have committed to implementing a blanket restriction.

When I was reporting on the issue of legal liability in the “Rust” case on Saturday, the pundits were adamant that this tragedy would not have happened if the standard gun handling protocols on set had. been followed. Sources told The Times that safety procedures, including gun inspections and safety meetings, were not strictly followed and that concerns had been expressed about previous accidental firearms discharges. .

Even beyond the question of who is responsible and what corners have been cut, the situation even goes against the very basic rules of gun handling, said Stuart Fraenkel, a Marine Corps veteran and civilian lawyer. who has dealt with numerous cases of bodily injury and wrongful death.

“What we have been taught in the Marine Corps and what we have been taught to get a firearms license is that you never point a gun at anyone, loaded or discharged, already“said Fraenkel.

Gun safety protocols seem to work well when followed. As one independent producer noted, on condition of anonymity, Brandon Lee has passed away for 28 years while directing “The Crow.” How many millions of shots have been fired in action and war movies since then without anyone being killed? On the other hand, we don’t know how many people suffer from preventable non-fatal injuries from guns. We only hear about deaths.

It would not be surprising if broader bans on certain weapons would soon come into effect in the industry. Industries, including Hollywood, have regulated themselves to avoid government crackdowns; this was the driving force behind the creation of the Motion Picture Assn. of the American Parental Guidance Assessment System. Insurers who cover productions could also pressure filmmakers to avoid real guns.

The current situation clearly echoes the fallout from the 2014 death of assistant camera Sarah Jones, who was struck by a freight train on a trestle in Georgia while filming “Midnight Rider.” This case also sparked calls for more attention to the safety of productions.

But it’s still remarkable that the call for restrictions is gaining traction, even if only in Hollywood. “In a country where even the slaughter of kindergarten children does not result in new regulations,” said the independent producer, “it is heartwarming to finally see concerns about gun safety.”

A group of people gather for a candlelight vigil.  One is holding a sign calling for safety on the trays.

Residents of New Mexico held a vigil in honor of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins in Albuquerque on Saturday. Hutchins’ death sparked discussions about safety on film sets.

(Sam Wasson / Getty Images)

Essential cover of the “Rust” tragedy

Read full coverage of The Times.

Week number

$ 41 million

Although available on HBO Max at no additional cost, “Dune” grossed $ 41 million at the domestic box office during its opening weekend, providing more evidence against the idea that streaming is a big deal. death sentence for the film. Or at least for a certain type of film.

The message I saw on social media that everyone should see “Dune” on the biggest screen possible, or don’t care, seemed to resonate with the public. Imax, Dolby, and other “premium format” options accounted for about half of revenue in the United States and Canada. About 22% came from Imax screens alone.

Total gross receipts for the United States and Canada exceeded expectations by $ 30-35 million, and the film made about $ 900,000 better than the $ 40.1 million. Warner Bros. estimated on a preliminary basis Sunday.

A $ 41 million opening isn’t a huge start for a movie that cost $ 165 million to make. But given that it probably drew a considerable number of viewers to HBO Max, that sounds like a solid result for a complex sci-fi movie that is over 2.5 hours long. The proof will be if and when “Part II” gets the green light.

A man grabs another man's arm for balance on a loading dock in a desert scene.

Josh Brolin, left, and Timothée Chalamet in “Dune”.

(Warner Bros.)

It’s always very, very good to be Duran Duran. The 1980s icons on getting COVID, the plastic pants and the new album. (LAT)

18 TV players reveal the platforms on which they most want to sell shows. “This is not the Netflix of 2-3 years ago.” (Initiated)

Following the IATSE agreement … Why Hollywood teams give mixed reviews of the new contract. (LAT)

The return of the Golden Globes has got off to a confusing start. “It looks very messy. »(Vanity Fair). And from LAT’s Stacy Perman: Golden Globes board expels Reform member for alleged “misconduct.”

Author Helen Lewis on Netflix and Dave Chapelle: The comedian’s latest special blurs the line between victim and bully. (Atlantic)


Thanks to everyone who sent in horror movie recommendations after last week’s edition. Choices included “Santa Sangre” by Alejandro Jodorowsky, whom I saw but need to see again. Separately, I saw Phoebe Bridgers perform at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles last week and heard her cover of Bo Burnham’s “That Funny Feeling” for (sort of) the first time.