The cast and crew of a major film production is set to return to Atlanta, Georgia, classrooms before Atlanta students.
What are the details?
Despite students still being barred from returning to in-person classes, Atlanta Public Schools granted special permission to Marvel Studios and Sony Pictures to film "Spider-Man" at two local schools — Frederick Douglass High School and Henry W. Grady High School — in January and March, respectively, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
The district delayed its plans to partially reopen schools for students last month and said that the soonest students may be able to return to classes is January, and that's not even guaranteed. School buildings were closed and classes were moved fully online more than eight months ago in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
As a part of the pandemic response, the district had also stopped the use of its facilities for film production. But now that policy appears to be changing after the big-name moviemaking companies threw their weight around.
In order to secure the special permission, the production reportedly dangled $50,000 in extra incentives in front of the district. Ian Easterbrook, location manager for the film, described the request as "unique and very time-sensitive" and said that he had "exhausted our normal channels of communication" before reaching out to Superintendent Lisa Herring directly.
"I know that APS is currently not accepting filming applications due to the COVID pandemic, and I know that filming a new movie quickly falls to the bottom of the priority list," he wrote in an email to the district obtained by the news outlet.
He reportedly added that use of the two schools is "vital to the success of this next film" because the location had already been established in the film's forerunner, "Spider-Man: Homecoming," which debuted in 2017.
The move to allow filming inside the schools before allowing in-person education to resume has upset some parents, according to the Washington Post.
"In person school is not only safe, it's necessary for learning," wrote one mother and teacher on Twitter. "Too bad kids don't generate the millions a movie does, or they'd be back in front of their teacher in a classroom rather than a computer screen."
A spokesman for the district, Seth Coleman, said that "Spider-Man" is the first film project to receive permission to use its schools for filming since the start of the pandemic. He noted that the request was approved because the schools were used before for the previous move in the series.
In addition to the $50,000 donation, the district will reportedly collect its customary filming fees of $750 a day for setup and tear-down and $2,500 a day for filming, as well as by-the-hour charges for any staff time.