New Zealand is ready for its close-up as most of film industry remains sidelined by COVID-19

Not long ago, the sounds of hundreds of armored feudal-era Chinese soldiers clashing swords rang out in the suburbs of Auckland, New Zealand.

In the midst of a pandemic that has hobbled film productions across the globe, that action sequence from the upcoming “Mulan” now seems like ancient history. It’s going to be a battle of a different kind to make movies before a COVID-19 vaccine is readily available.

“This will just be an interesting challenge to see how we actually are able to engage in the collaborative act of filmmaking,” said David Conley, executive visual effects producer at Weta Digital, the New Zealand-based effects house behind “The Lord of the Rings,” “Planet of the Apes” and “Avatar” franchises. “How many takes are you allowed to do of two actors…

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