Could Shang-Chi’s Production Utilize The Mandalorian’s “Stagecraft” VFX to Resume Production?

Marvel Studio’s Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings was already into production when the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak finally became visible outside of China, to the world. Even though we are finding out that it had been spreading since December in the USA, January in France, and October in Wuhan (from what we know so-far).

With Shang-Chi‘s production shutting down in Australia, as its nation started going into quarantine, and the film lost its coveted Chinese Box-Office Feb. 12th 2021 release date – aka the Chinese Spring Festival. The most important box-office period in China.

By Ryan Carroll, Managing Editor

May, 2020.

UPDATED: On Sept. 10th the MCU Cosmic via THR confirmed that I was, somewhat correct, in that Disney / Marvel would utilized The Mandalorian StageCraft LED. As they are building a StageCraft Volume, a larger version, at Fox Studio in Australia for Thor: Love and Thunder. Correct assumption, wrong movie.

ILM is also building another StageCraft LED at the Manhattan Beach Studios where The Mandalorian is shot, and a StageCraft Volume at Pinewood Studios in London, so expect more Marvel and Star Wars productions utilizing these facilities next year during the pandemic.

Losing the potential to have a day-and-date release on the first day of the Chinese New Year, or Spring Festival, could have netted Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings the biggest box-office ever for any foreign film in China. As the Marvel Cinematic Universe has made $2.8BnUSD to-date at the China Box-Office.

Remember Marvel / Disney their distributor / only receives 30% of the local box-office take (no matter what DMG Entertainment says about Iron Man 3 being a “co-production).

In an earlier article we looked at the potential of the MCU, up-to to the the release of release of Shang-Chi, taking into the account of Black Widow and the Chinese-born Chloe Zhao directed The Eternals projections, at the China Box-Office, which you may read here:

If Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings plays like Avengers: Endgame then the MCU is looking at a tally of $3.6-3.8BnUSD at the China Box-Office. If Shang-Chi plays like Avengers: Infinity War then we are looking at $3.36-3.56BnUSD, after the Spring Festival of 2021.

All figures compiled by author, from Box-Office Mojo and MCU averages in China.

Now I am questioning the totals, as the ‘New Normal’ we face, is one of staggered seating and staggered rows. If people are even going to cinemas in droves, at all, in China. A trend has emerged in China and that is, streaming is winning the game in China.

The Middle Kingdom does not have the long tradition of going to the cinemas as we do in the U.S. Watching films such as Star Wars or Aliens, and wishing to have that shared experience, yet-again, is not apart of their culture. With a society that has grown up on their mobile and smart devices, streaming will rule the day.

But, the worldwide box-office and Disney, with Marvel, are two catalyst that will bring people back together when they need it the most. This is why they will find a way, a safe way, to get production rolling again.

Reading Bob Iger’s book, one can tell he is not a person that will ok a production or a business reopening if he believes it will obviously risk people’s lives. But, sometimes, like Disney Shanghai, as he does not have a say because their local partners own a 57% majority stake and the management team is 30% local Chinese.

Which aligns with the government’s standards of having businesses at 30% capacity, even though Bob Iger and Disney wanted them 30% below that.

But, the new technology utilized on The Mandalorian Stagecraft, with the help of the Unreal Engine from developer Epic Games:

Now, they only need to send one camera person to an exotic location to capture footage of it in order to use it as a projected environment. Locations can be recorded and then digitally manipulated in whatever ways the filmmakers want before projecting them around actors on set.

Stagecraft can also make the production process more efficient. “You can change from Iceland to the desert in one [minute] from setup to setup, so it really changes the flow of production,” Lynwen Brennan, a Lucasfilm executive, said during the panel, according to Slashfilm.
Mando putting Batman 66 to Shame!

Utilizing this tech and its ability to send one or two people to location, while then having a minimal crew on location in the sound stage, while also allowing for the use of sets in Australia, gives Shang-Chi the ability to test and quarantine the cast and crew for the duration of production.

New Disney CEO Bob Chapek has revealed that he doesn’t expect large-scale productions, including those currently in the works at Marvel Studios, to resume filming in the near future.

“In terms of large-scale production, we’re going to go through the same process with our productions as we do our theme parks in terms of absolutely guaranteeing that we’re going to be responsible in terms of how we put both our own employees and other filmmakers that are partners with us as they do these productions,” Chapek said (via Seeking Alpha) on an earnings call when asked about major productions – specifically Marvel’s – starting back up and what protective measures will be taken in the wake of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Chapek also confirmed that there is no timeframe in place for restarting filming. “We’ve got no projections of exactly when we can do that,” he admitted.

Games Radar / Total Film Magazine

If my suspects turns out to be true, which I have been right in the past, then we should see Marvel Studios and Disney apply the Stagecraft tech to Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness and then to Thor Love and Thunder. As both of these movies would be readily available for sound stage work, caparable to location shooting a la Mission Impossible.

UPDATE: According to The Hollywood Reporter studios are looking at robots used in hospitals for decades, and are being currently tested in the MTR system (subways) in NYC, that will use UVGI (ultraviolet germicidal irradiation) lights that have been shown to kill 99.9% of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The virus that causes the COVID-19 disease in humans.

According to testing performed at the Texas Biomedical Research Institute, one of the world’s leading independent research institutes that works exclusively with infectious diseases, the robot was able to deactivate 99.99 percent of the novel coronavirus in two minutes with its LightStrike technology. The device is made by San Antonio-based Xenex Disinfection Services, which has trademarked the name “Xenex Germ-Zapping Robot.” It’s just one tool the company’s co-founder and chief scientific officer, Dr. Mark Stibich, is offering the entertainment industry as part of his and former filmmaker Justin Golding’s newly formed venture, Production Safe Zone (PSZ), which is aimed at helping Hollywood productions get back up and running again safely. With studies suggesting that the virus can live on some surfaces for days, high-touch areas on set can pose a grave threat to the safety of cast and crew, so having effective ways to rid surfaces of the virus is critical to reopening. The pair have approached major studios and streamers, including Netflix, Amazon and Sony, in recent weeks about the robots. “The way we like to think of it is that our pathogens, like coronavirus, have evolved — but our tools that clean the environment haven’t,” says Stibich, who holds a master of health science degree and a Ph.D. from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and is a fellow of the Infectious Diseases Society of America. “We’re still basically using buckets and mops and wipes, and what we need is a new tool in order to reduce the risks that the environment may cause an infection.”


This along with sound stage, Stagecraft technology, and UGVI Robots, could put Marvel Studios movies Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, along with Doctor Strange and the Multiverse of Madness, and Thor Love and Thunder back into production, before other major studios who rely on location shots such as Mission Impossible 7.

One little bit of Shang-Chi rumors out there that I just found interesting, is that it is taking place between Infinity War and Endgame. Which has nothing to due with this post, but I’m personally excited about Shang-Chi and just a huge MCU fan in general so….

Stay Tuned China Watchers, and Please Be Kind To One Another. Humanity Is In This Together – No Matter Where You Are. A Little Compassion Helps.

All things are part of one single system, which is called Nature; the individual life is good when it is in harmony with nature.

Zeno of Citium

Sympatheia: n. The belief in mutual interdependence among everything in the universe….that we are all one.

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About the Author

Born and raised in the Missouri-Ozarks Ryan studied Film Production, and East Asian Culture, at the University of Kansas where he was a UGRA recipient that led him on a seven-year long, Journey From the West, to China. Where he worked with Warner Brothers, the China Film Group Corp. and the National Bureau of Statistics of China. Before returning to the States, where he specializes in Chinese Anime & Comics, China’s Box-Office, and Chinese entertainment-tech industries. He has a dog in China, Abigail, and a dog in the Arkansas-Ozarks, King Blue, who help ease his anxiety of suffering from the “Two-Dimensional Complex” that is trying to understand the Culture Industry landscapes of the Middle Kingdom.