After the threat of an actors’ strike this past summer led to a shutdown in Hollywood film production, it seems the studios are finally getting back to work—less than a month before an actual strike could occur. Or could it?
Last spring, the studios rushed to finish production by June 30 to avoid being hurt by a potential walkout. But then the Screen Actors Guild’s contract expired, negotiations with the studios broke down—and nothing: no strike but few movies were being made.
Now it seems the studios are finally getting back to work, after moguls like Bob Iger advocated doing so with or without a contract.
Variety: After mostly sitting on the sidelines since the June 30 expiration of the SAG contract, studios are preparing to put 40 or more films into production between spring and summer.
Hundreds of millions of dollars in production financing will be committed to fill slates for 2010 and 2011, signaling the end of the de facto thesp strike that has kept pic production at a low ebb for nearly a year.
With a handful of exceptions, the majors mostly stopped greenlighting films in October 2007, which led to a large number of productions that wrapped before June 30…
Studios are more nervous about the financial exposure they face if SAG does go on strike. But the prospect of gaping holes in their distribution slates for 2010 and 2011 is a worse scenario for the majors, and so they are willing to risk the consequences of moving ahead despite the SAG uncertainty.
This all makes it seem like the studios believe that the threatened strike will never happen. We hope they’re right. And perhaps by pressing ahead with production, the studios will convince any actors who think it would be appropriate to strike not to do so.
Indeed, while films that went into production this summer like Terminator Salvation, Transformers 2 and Night at the Museum 2 had strike contingencies built into their schedules, the next batch of films will not.
The next batch of studio starts will have no strike protection. Studios begin spending money on pics during the pre-production phase, which usually begins 12 weeks before the start of principal photography. That means the clock will begin running next month on many pictures that will begin lensing in spring. There is no strike insurance available and no real way to protect against the millions of dollars in costs that will be incurred if a shutdown occurs.
Production on studio-sized films costs anywhere between $100,000 and $500,000 per day, and if a production halts because of an actor walkout, studios have only an eight-week hold on casts. There is potential for catastrophe.
Several top agents said the crumbling economy and the way their acting clients are itching to get back to work leaves them hopeful that a strike won’t disrupt film starts. Studios are betting on it.
The studios also aren’t starting filming right away. So, they do have a bit of a time cushion.
See Also: Could The Financial Crisis CAUSE An Actors Strike?
Screen Actors Move Closer To Striking
A Screen Actors Guild Strike Now???
Disney’s Bob Iger: Greedy SAG Dumb To Reject Our Offer, But We Don’t Need Them Anyway
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