Avatar 2 leads the way and UK to welcome Jurassic World as film sets reopen

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The film industry is taking its first tentative steps towards starting production again as the restrictions on travel and social distancing are lifted in some countries.

Film sets around the world were shut down when the coronavirus outbreak worsened in March.

Cinemas also had to close, meaning some major releases that were already finished - including Daniel Craig's final outing as James Bond - are still waiting to see the light of day.

But in New Zealand, work has begun once more on James Cameron's Avatar 2, which is believed to be the first big blockbuster to go back into production.

The Oscar-winning director and dozens of his crew members arrived in the country earlier this month and have been back working on the sequel to the 2009 hit at Stone Street Studios in Wellington.

Earlier this week, the film's producer Jon Landau shared a photo from the set, which showed the crew wearing face masks and visors.

"Used my iPhone to snap a picture of our first shot back in production on the Avatar sequels," he wrote.

 Disney/ 20th Century Fox

Image: Avatar 2. Pic: Disney/ 20th Century Fox

 Disney/ 20th Century Fox

Image: Avatar 2. Pic: Disney/ 20th Century Fox

Avatar 2 is not the only major production getting back on track after being curtailed by COVID-19.

In the UK, Pinewood Studios confirmed to Sky News that Jurassic World: Dominion would be resuming filming soon.

Bryce Dallas Howard and Chris Pratt will be filming in the UK

Image: Bryce Dallas Howard and Chris Pratt will be filming in the UK

Earlier this week, Deadline reported that the latest instalment in the long-running dinosaur franchise would be the first major film to restart production here.

The film was stopped a month into its 20-week shoot when lockdown began in March.

Universal confirmed that filming will resume from the second week of July, although it is not known if that will include scenes with its stars Chris Pratt and Bryce Dallas Howard.

Presently, anyone flying into the UK must self-isolate for 14 days.

The Batman, starring Robert Pattinson, and Disney's remake of The Little Mermaid with Halle Bailey were also starting in the UK before the pandemic, but it is not known when they will resume.

 Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

Image: A man dressed as Batman during filming at the Glasgow Necropolis cemetery in February

In Australia, the premier of Queensland said she had met director Baz Luhrmann about restarting shooting on his upcoming film about Elvis, which stars Tom Hanks.

Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson were among the first high-profile figures to be diagnosed with COVID-19, while they were in pre-production for the as-yet unnamed film.

They were kept in quarantine in hospital before flying home to Los Angeles once they had recovered.

The rest of the cast and crew remained in Australia and Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said she was working with Luhrman to get cameras rolling again at Village Roadshow Studios on the Gold Coast.

She said: "We want to ensure that this can happen as soon as possible while making sure that the cast and crew can operate safely.

"Screen Queensland and Queensland Health are also currently developing a screen industry COVID safe plan that will be released shortly, paving the way for the whole sector to get rolling cameras again and crew back to work on sets."

 Tom Hanks

Image: Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson while in quarantine. Pic: Tom Hanks

Paramount has already announced that it hopes to start shooting the next Mission: Impossible movie - now due for release in 2021 - in Italy this September.

Work has not begun in Hollywood itself yet, as unions are still to sign off on safety protocols on how film sets should operate while the virus remains a threat.

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"For the major film productions and a handful of premium TV shows, this pandemic was like tranquilising an elephant," a film studio executive, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told Variety.

"We're not going to be able to stand up right away."

Back in the UK, cinemas hope to reopen in July with extra safety measures in line with government guidance.

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