International filming locations, motorcycle riding by its Oscar-nominated actress, and physical scenes made “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” the riskiest film for Fireman’s Fund to insure in 2011. The movie dons the riskiest-film title even after some of the stunts needed to be toned down or scrapped because of insurance concerns.
“There was a lot of riding,” says Wendy Diaz, entertainment underwriting director at Fireman’s Fund. “We knew that early on, and the actress was not a rider.”
Rooney Mara, nominated for an Oscar in the lead actress category, was not an experienced motorcycle rider before filming. According to interviews with the movie’s director, Mara trained for months on a motorcycle but that wasn’t enough to keep some risky scenes—included in the best-selling book from which the film is based—in the film.
Diaz says any decisions to adjust or throw out stunt plans are made mutually. The insurer of Hollywood movies for the last 85 years does not tell movie-makers they can’t do anything, but it does lay out the consequences.
“There is a lot of money to lose,” Diaz says. “This is a trilogy. You don’t want to stand in the way of artistic vision, but everyone has to be comfortable with what is going on.”
The movie was also shot in Sweden and Switzerland, creating another realm of risk for equipment, set, and cast transportation, as well as the risk of illness in a foreign location.
When a cast member is unable to work, then that can cause production delays, which can add up to millions of dollars. That is where an experienced insurer comes in handy.
“Fireman’s Fund, [for example], insures 80 percent of U.S. films, and its credibility as experienced underwriters is respected in the industry,” says Diaz.
“The insurer visits sets each month to stay up-to-date and maintain its relationships, she adds. “They know we are working with the best interest of the client in mind.”
Other popular films of 2011 insured by Fireman’s Fund include:
- The Rum Diary
- Tower Heist
- Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
- Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows
- The Artist
- The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 1
Last year’s riskiest movie title went to “Salt,” starring Angelina Jolie. The distinction in past years has gone to “The Wrestler,” “Into the Wild,” “Crazy Heart,” and “Inglorious Basterds.”