Forthcoming action epic “The Great Wall” ignored common safety practices and exposed star Matt Damon and crew to unregulated chemicals and pollution during production, a new report says.
The flagship film of Dalian Wanda’s $3.5 billion acquisition Legendary East was shot exclusively in China, where Beijing’s well-known pollution problem affected its marquee star, according to the Wall Street Journal.
“How do I look Matt Damon in the face when he’s the only one not wearing a mask?” an unnamed producer said of the protective gear most commonly used stateside for medical procedures.
More serious, however, are the report’s accusations of chemical exposure and lax policies regarding set construction on the $150 million film.
“You had to be a policeman,” said the film’s key grip Guy Michelett about the vigilance required on set, adding that harnesses were routinely ignored when climbing scaffolding to rig lights.
An individual close to the production told TheWrap that Michelett was not employed when shooting on “The Great Wall” commenced. It’s unclear if he was only contracted for pre-production. Michelett did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.
“I nearly passed out from the fumes that came out of a spray can,” another crew member told the WSJ of the use of a chemical sealant banned on other sets.
Representatives for Dalian Wanda and Legendary East declined TheWrap’s request for comment. Damon’s reps did not immediately return a similar request.
The reported absence of these standard safety practices flies in the face of what Wanda has been trumpeting for more than a year — that it’s here to take Hollywood into the future.
The majority of “The Great Wall” was shot in China’s Qingdao region, where Wanda is building an $8.2 billion, 408-acre mega studio which will include a resort, theme park and a 5,300-seat cinema complex.
Wanda Studios Qingdao will bring standards on par with the U.S. Government’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration when its facilities open, an individual who works closely with WSQ said. It’s a top priority for Wanda Special Advisor and former AMPAS President Hawk Koch, the insider added.
While the complex isn’t slated for completion until 2018, an unveiling event in Los Angeles last October revealed film productions would hit the WSQ stages as early as Q1 2017, beginning with the John Boyega action sequel “Pacific Rim: Uprising.”
The company is actively trying to lure productions to the new facility with a staggering 40 percent tax rebate and a state-of-the-art experience. They’re also pledging $750 million in production funding over the next five years.
The Zhang Yimou-directed film’s problems did not end when cameras stopped rolling. An early teaser for the project did not sit well with Asian activist groups who perceived Damon’s character as a “white savior.” He plays a European hit man who fights alongside the Chinese to protect the Great Wall from CGI monsters.
The film is considered the most expensive co-financed project in the short history of Hollywood and China’s physical production dealings. Backers include Universal Pictures, Le Vision and China Film Group.
“The Great Wall” opens in North America on Feb. 17.