LOS ANGELES: The red carpets and their sparkling stars in front of the lenses have so far been a must to promote big budget films that Hollywood has the secret.

Problem since the coronavirus pandemic: this crowd of assistants, journalists, vigilantes and fans shoulder to shoulder is also a nightmare for physical distancing.

As California slowly begins to relax the containment measures ordered two months ago, cinema marketing experts are brimming with ideas to roll out these famous red carpets without the risk of spreading the coronavirus.

“Before, it was a question of attracting attention as much as possible, bringing large crowds and sharing the event with as many people as possible,” sums up Elizabeth Tramontozzi, of 15 | 40 Productions, one of the Hollywood’s largest event companies.

“If we want to be able to move forward, it will be radically different,” she told AFP.

His company, which had notably built an impressive set of “Game of Thrones” in New York for the last episode of the television saga, took advantage of eight weeks of confinement to imagine concepts compatible with the pandemic.

Among the anti-Covid-19 arsenal, plexiglass screens could henceforth be erected between journalists and stars, who would also be interviewed remotely in isolated “capsules”. Fans could still shout their admiration at them, but only on pre-selection and on screen.

The armada of relatives and assistants who traditionally accompany the stars would be asked to bypass the red carpet by taking “priority routes”.

In cinemas showing films in preview, social distancing will of course be in order. The specialists are considering the possibility of taking the temperature of all the guests and the fans would be kept away.

“We have to take refuge first, to prevent people from gathering on the sidewalks to watch,” said 15 | 40 president Craig Waldman.

With social distancing, the red carpet “will be just a little bit wider and a little bit longer,” he said.

First “drive-in”

Even with the implementation of these new measures, specialists do not imagine anytime soon to organize the exuberant parties according to projection, with their crowded bars and buffets.

While streaming giants like Netflix or Amazon have become the kings of containment and continue to go out as if nothing had happened, the virtual “press tours” during which stars do interviews via the internet are more and more popular.

15 | 40 has even created a mobile studio in a caravan, which can move from one actor ‘s home to another and be redecorated according to the films or series whose promotion must be ensured.

The company also imagined launch evenings in the form of “drive-in”, in open-air cars, where celebrities would take the front row to interact with their fans via a video link.

There is no quick fix, however, and most of the major Hollywood productions slated for this year have pushed back their release dates while waiting for cinemas to reopen.

Even though the sparkles and champagne could be frowned upon in a time when the dead are piling up and unemployment is soaring, Craig Waldman believes that most people “are tired of staying at home”. Even red carpet under bell and virtual premieres would be welcome for fans in need, he said.

The first life-size test should be Tenet, a big budget thriller by Christopher Nolan (Inception, Batman trilogy The Dark Knight), a director determined to be the first to return to theaters in Hollywood.

The official release date of Tenet is still July 17 until further notice. “I really hope it will happen (…) We spent a lot of time creating a secure environment for the studio, for the press and for the artists,” said Craig Waldman.

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