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How Netflix’s Red Notice Was Able To Film Crowded Scene With Dwayne Johnson And Gal Gadot, Despite COVID Protocols

Gal Gadot prepares to steal the egg in Valencia in Red Notice.
(Image credit: Netflix)

When all is said and done, Netflix’s Red Notice has amounted to a massive hit in 2021’s overall cinematic picture. A blockbuster that cost a backbreaking amount of money to make, it defied the previous attitudes of smaller spending for the streaming giant, and seemed to be worth the effort. But with Dwayne Johnson and Gal Gadot having to film that flirtatious masquerade scene, which was crowded with as many extras as COVID protocols safely allowed, director Rawson Marshall Thurber had to get a bit creative to achieve a maskless picture of normalcy. Which, naturally, wasn’t cheap. 

In a discussion with THR, the writer/director of last year’s heist hit admitted that returning to production after being shut down was entering uncharted territory. In the past, a scene with Johnson and Gadot attending a clandestine party and dancing amid a crowd of strangers wouldn’t be that much of a struggle. But as Thurber admitted in this interview, the logistical issues that arose in the time of COVID only beefed up the already dominating budget

There was a masquerade ball sequence that was supposed to have 300 extras as Dwayne and Gal dance together. We weren’t allowed to have that many people together, so the actors wore N95 masks under their masquerade masks. And we had to shoot it in layers, in plates, and stitch those pieces together. That is why the budget went up. We started the movie with 400 visual effects shots — it wasn’t a visual effects movie at all — and ended with 1,500 or so.

Masking was only the beginning of Red Notice’s journey into pioneering safe measures to film a pre-pandemic blockbuster through unprecedented times. As was common in the early days of COVID-compliant filmmaking, cast and crew were required to stay in a “bubble,” so as to limit their exposure to the outside. Separating everyone from their families a little more strictly than a “typical” production, the experience led to Gal Gadot providing some keen reflection on the experience, as well as a ton of thank you videos created by her co-star Ryan Reynolds, in honor of the crew and their families. 

As for that big moment where Dwayne Johnson’s John Hartley tangles with Gal Gadot’s mysterious criminal known as “The Bishop,” that dance floor does look pretty crowded. The whole party, while not exactly as extra rich as Rawson Thurber Marshall would have hoped, still maintains the illusion of a well attended soiree that provides enough distraction to steal something. Check out a piece of this Red Notice moment in question below, and see for yourself:

Challenges of early pandemic filmmaking have only made further advances all the more impressive. They also throw some of the special monetary considerations of films produced and released during that time into sharper relief when compared to the world before. As more dominating productions continue to ramp up, the lessons learned from Red Notice and its contemporaries won’t be forgotten, as they should only serve to make big budget spectacles all the safer to put together from here on out. So don’t think Hollywood’s going to ditch the up close and personal seduction of a masquerade ball in the near future. 

If you want to see the full masquerade scene between Dwayne Johnson and Gal Gadot, as well as the rest of the movie that happens to also contain Ryan Reynolds, Red Notice is currently available on Netflix. There’s a chance you may have already enjoyed this movie once, maybe even twice, in its epic streaming debut. So if you’re one of those people that’s ready to dive into 2022’s release schedule, you can take that plunge without any further delay.

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.