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Mission: Impossible is no ordinary franchise. In Tom Cruise, it stars one of the movie industry’s top actors. So it’s no surprise that Paramount Pictures has a hefty $100 million policy to ensure the availability of top cast. Now, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic which forced Paramount to delay production of Mission: Impossible 7, the studio is going to court with its insurer.
The suit was filed in California federal court on Monday. According to Paramount, Federal Insurance Company (a unit of Chubb) isn’t living up to the terms of coverage designed to protect the studio. Under those terms, the insurer must reimburse Paramount for losses sustained by the unavailability of any “covered person.”
Paramount says that in Feb. 2020, it had to shut down production in Venice, Italy due to the illness of a covered person. According to news reports at the time, someone on the set had tested positive for COVID-19. The complaint doesn’t identify who exactly got sick, but evidently the sickness triggered this $100 million policy, according to Paramount.
The insurer has only agreed to pay $5 million, adds the complaint (read in full here). Paramount says its losses far exceed this amount.
A few weeks after production was delayed by sickness, it was then suspended when the Italian government imposed a quarantine order. Thus, there appears to be some contention over what and how coverage applies to Paramount’s claims.
“Ultimately, Federal contended that only part of Paramount’s claimed losses were covered under the Policy,” states the complaint. “Specifically, on July 1, 2020, Federal wrote to Paramount, stating that it would pay for the losses caused by the covered person’s illness in February 2020 subject to its adjustment of the submitted covered expenses. However, Federal stated that the $100,000,000 Cast coverage was not available for most of the remaining portions of Paramount’s losses. Federal claimed that Paramount’s losses arising from the pandemic, orders of civil authorities, and the need to mitigate could only be covered under the Policy’s Civil Authority coverage, and then that all the losses would be subject to a single $1,000,000 limit of liability.”
That’s not all.
“Remarkably, Federal stated that there was no evidence that those cast and crew members could not continue their duties, despite being infected with SARS-CoV-2 and posing an undeniable risk to other individuals involved with the production,” continues the complaint
Paramount isn’t the only studio to go to war with insurers with pandemic-related claims. For example, Disney is taking on Fireman’s Fund over production delays incurred during the pandemic.
Ultimately, Mission: Impossible 7 resumed production in July 2020 with further delays in October upon a COVID spike. It then resumed again only to be shut down again, then resumed again in the U.K. this past February only to be suspended a fifth time. Then, production moved to Abu Dhabi where it incurred yet more delays and then back to the U.K. where it continues to be troubled by the virus.
“In June 2021, while filming in the UK, following more positive tests for COVID-19 among cast and crew, production was shut down for the seventh time,” states the complaint. “Following each of the suspensions in production, Paramount timely notified Federal of the delay and the losses it would incur due to the interruptions and to reduce the possibility of additional covered claims.”
The movie is now slated for release in May 2022.
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