Lionsgate has pulled out as distributor of forthcoming Gerard Butler thriller The Plane because producers were unable to secure production insurance covering a coronavirus outbreak.
The move highlights one of the big challenges currently facing US producers and distributors, who have found pandemic insurance all but impossible to come by. Attempts to get the US government to provide an insurance backstop scheme have so far come to nothing.
Lionsgate took rights to the film for North America, the UK and other territories at last year’s AFM. Director Christian Gudegast had been set to start shooting last month in Malaysia before pandemic conditions in that country worsened.
It is understood that Lionsgate withdrew only after attempts to resolve the pandemic insurance situation failed and producers agreed to seek another distributor.
Now international sales agency MadRiver and US rights representative CAA Media Finance are shopping the film to other distributors who might be able to insure themselves against delays caused by on-set Covid outbreaks, or claims by members of the production who might test positive.
The film is expected to shoot in the early spring or summer, with Butler starring as a commercial pilot who must keep his passengers and crew safe after he lands his stricken aircraft in a war zone and finds himself caught between multiple militia who planning to take the craft and its passengers hostage.
Di Bonaventura Pictures’ Lorenzo di Bonaventura and Mark Vahradian are producing The Plane, alongside MadRiver Pictures’ Marc Butan and Ara Keshishian, and Butler and Alan Siegel through their G-BASE.