There is nothing more satisfying than when bosses realize who does the work needed to make them money. While the WGA successfully picketed and shut down productions on both coasts, the SAG-AFTRA action shut down productions shooting internationally, like Interview With the Vampire and Gladiator 2. And now, according to Variety, the movie industry is going to start feeling the financial ramifications of an industry shutdown as Hollywood heads into blockbuster season.
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One of Variety’s sources estimates it costs $600,000 per week for major productions to “[hold] on to soundstages packed with sets and costumes.” The article also mentions that AMPTP studios have to contend with the fact that ticket sales are down, costs are rising, and covid delays have added millions—if not “tens of millions”—to movie budgets. But without actors to promote their movies… the loss of both tickets and prestige critical acclaim will compound.
“Without actors to promote movies and shows, studios are considering pushing back release dates,” as well as awards shows themselves, according to Variety. As actors continue to refuse to promote their films and start walking the picket lines instead, the AMPTP won’t just have a film crisis, but a publicity crisis, as more and more film stars start talking about the kinds of conditions they and the majority of their working class unit have to deal with.
Variety reports that Tom Cruise actually entreated SAG-AFTRA “to allow movie stars to continue promoting their new films, given the challenging theatrical landscape.” When SAG-AFTRA reportedly counted by asking Cruise to join the picket lines and come out publicly in support of the labor action, he was “noncommittal.” SAG-AFTRA included all promotional appearances in struck work actions.
There’s another factor here: AMPTP’s refusal to negotiate fairly with two of the biggest unions in Hollywood has led to ramifications through the entire industry. Workers in related fields, like cinematographers, grips, production assistants, makeup artists, and costume designers, have seen their sources of income shut down too.
“It comes down to commerce versus art,” talent agent Michael Greene said to Variety. “What’s happening right now is the commerce doesn’t really understand how the artist thinks. They think they can do this without the artist, or they can do it with AI. They’re thinking in numbers. Commerce wants to win out for their bottom line, and they’ll never fully win without the artist. It’s David versus Goliath.”
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