British Entertainment Industry Resumes "Business as Normal" After Manchester Attack

MANCHESTER - Tributes left in St Ann's Square -  May 26, 2017 -Getty-H 2017
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Movie theaters remained open and few concerts were canceled in the wake of the deadly bombing that occurred at an Ariana Grande concert on May 22.

British entertainment executives are keeping a stiff upper lip despite the cancellation of two film premieres (The Mummy and Wonder Woman) and Kiss' last-minute decision to pull out of a concert following the May 22 Manchester bombing that killed 22 people.

The Sundance Film Festival: London screening of Miguel Arteta's Beatriz at Dinner will still kick off its June 1 to 4 run; Radio 1's Big Weekend festival still happened May 27 and 28 in Hull, with "various extra security measures," according to the BBC; and two Iron Maiden gigs went ahead in London (with "enhanced security checks"). At the same time, Aerosmith decided not to cancel any European dates, and Ariana Grande announced a return to Manchester for a benefit concert June 4 with Justin Bieber, Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, Coldplay, Pharrell Williams, Usher and Niall Horan.

Those holding live events seemed torn about the right course of action (Take That shows were called off, as were a WWE performance and special screenings of Glow and Orange Is the New Black). But there was no indication of a mass rush to accept Live Nation's offer to refund tickets to any shows in England.

Movie theaters remained open. As for film and TV production in the Manchester area — a major industry hub, where more than 60,000 work — it also remains in full swing.

Two units continued to shoot ITV's Cold Feet, says Matthew Justice of Big Talk Productions, but the crew asked the firm to contribute to an emergency fund rather than end-of-production gifts. "They approached it with such kindness and positivity. It was truly impressive," he says.

"We had two units shooting the following morning on Cold Feet," Justice tells THR about the day after the attack. "One was meant to be shooting in the city center. I was on the phone with my line producer at 7 o’clock in the morning who said we have moved the work from the city center to the studio facility [Space Studios Manchester] we have been based out of to shoot a studio day rather than being on location, because there are road closures. So we reshuffled our schedule. The other unit was shooting at the studio on sets."

Only two hours of work were lost that day after the attack, “which speaks volumes about the professionalism and the positivity, with which cast and crew approached the day – they were unbowed and they were not going to let the events of [that day] get in the way of their work," he says. "We continued to shoot in and around Manchester all week without problems whatsoever.”

Justice expects the industry to continue to love working in and around Manchester. "We have been producing, pretty much continuously, in Manchester for the last four years. We love working up here, crews are fantastic, facilities are great," he says. While the attack "was an unbelievably horrific and vile incident, I don’t think that it is going to impact Manchester’s attraction as a fantastic place to film and base productions. And we stand united and we won’t allow ourselves to be cowed by these atrocities.”

The founder of Space Studios Manchester, Sue Woodward, also chair of MCDA Group, echoes that spirit of defiance.”In Manchester it is business as normal,” she tells THR about the state of production work in the city after the attack. “That is the Manchester way.”

This story first appeared in the May 31 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.