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US actors’ union grants 39 film and TV productions exemption from strike action

David Lowery’s indie film Mother Mary and the television biopic The Chosen are among the 39 productions that have so far received the US actors’ union’s blessing to resume shooting, despite the ongoing strike.

American actors walked off sets around the world at 5.01pm AEST last Friday, after a breakdown in negotiations between the Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA) and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP).

The strike is having global ramifications.

In the UK, the production of Wicked, starring Ariana Grande, has been shut down. Beetlejuice and Deadpool 3 are also reported to be significantly affected.

In Australia, about 150 local actors and crew have been stood down from the production of Mortal Kombat 2 and a further 80 Australian workers have been stood down from Universal Studio’s film adaptation of Liane Moriarty’s novel Apples Never Fall, after their US counterparts stopped work. Both productions were being filmed at Village Roadshow Studios on the Gold Coast.

The 24 August release of Australian film Force of Nature: the Dry 2 has been rescheduled “until the actors are able to support the launch”, with the film’s co-producer and star Eric Bana – a SAG-AFTRA member – saying the decision was made “with some regret, but a large amount of conviction ... I stand in support of the changes that SAG-AFTRA are fighting for.”

On Tuesday, film industry publications Deadline and Variety both reported that US actors engaged by independent production companies not affiliated with the AMPTP had been given the green light to resume work.

Two of the productions granted the waiver are the work of A24, the independent production company behind the Academy Award-winning films Everything Everywhere All At Once and Moonlight.

Mother Mary, starring Anne Hathaway and Michaela Coel, has been granted approval by the union to resume shooting, and Death of a Unicorn, starring Paul Rudd and Jenna Ortega, is now back on schedule to begin shooting in Hungary shortly.

The television biopic about the life of Jesus, The Chosen, and the crime thriller The Rivals of Amziah King, starring Matthew McConaughey, are among the 39 productions exempt from industrial action, on the proviso the independent production companies agree to the terms of whatever offer is finally agreed to by the union and the Hollywood studios.

The industrial action has caused upheaval in Hollywood, already reeling from the ongoing Writers Guild of America strike, now into its third month.

It is the first joint strike by the two unions in more than 60 years, with the issues of residuals from streaming services and the possible threat to jobs from artificial intelligence the main areas of dispute.

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