With summer season film season at its midpoint, Hollywood usually begins to show its gaze towards the autumn, when a trio of main movie festivals acts because the unofficial kickoff to Oscar season. Seven of the final 10 best-picture winners had their debuts at a fall competition, popping out of the gate with standing ovations and significant acclaim that helped propel them by the monthslong awards-show gantlet.
However now that SAG-AFTRA and the Writers Guild of America are each on strike, might a protracted battle between the unions and the studios trigger these fall launchpads to fizzle?
Although the writers’ strike, which started Could 2, didn’t have a lot of an impact on the Cannes Movie Competition that month, the actors’ strike that began Friday might considerably reshape coming fests in Venice, Telluride, Colo., and Toronto. That’s as a result of SAG-AFTRA is prohibiting members from selling any movie whereas the strike is on, an across-the-board ban that features interviews, photograph calls and red-carpet duties. With out these appearances, festivals might be sapped of the star energy that’s invaluable to elevating a movie’s profile.
The primary occasion that can in all probability be affected is the Venice Movie Competition, which begins its eightieth version on Aug. 30 with the premiere of the sexy tennis comedy “Challengers,” starring Zendaya. Venice has currently rivaled Cannes for glamour and headlines, so the lack of well-known actors can be a giant blow. Almost all the main moments at Venice final yr had been star-driven, from the viral clip of Brendan Fraser crying after the premiere of “The Whale” to the social-media scrutiny of Harry Types and Chris Pine as they appeared to conflict whereas selling “Don’t Fear Darling.” (Although if there had been a strike, Florence Pugh, the star, would have had a greater excuse for infamously skipping that movie’s information convention.)
The competition will announce its full lineup on July 25, and buzz suggests it might embody extremely anticipated movies like Bradley Cooper’s Leonard Bernstein biopic, “Maestro”; Sofia Coppola’s “Priscilla,” concerning the relationship between Elvis Presley and his spouse, Priscilla; and “The Killer,” a David Fincher thriller starring Michael Fassbender and Tilda Swinton. These auteurs are at the very least well-known sufficient to choose up among the promotional slack, although Cooper may be in a bind as each the director and star of “Maestro,” since any press he does may very well be seen as flouting SAG’s prohibition.
The Telluride Movie Competition, which runs Sept. 1-4 and shot to the highlight the likes of “Woman Fowl” and “Moonlight,” must be much less affected by the absence of stars: That intimate Colorado gathering is a favourite of well-known attendees as a result of they’re not required to do photograph ops or media blitzes and might as a substitute mill round like common individuals.
However the Toronto Worldwide Movie Competition, starting Sept. 7, is a heady 10-day affair crammed with purple carpets, portrait studios and press junkets that can all shrink considerably if actors are forbidden to attend. Canadian companies are already bracing for a hit to their bottom line if the competition contracts. Organizers issued an announcement of concern final week: “The influence of this strike on the trade and occasions like ours can’t be denied. We’ll proceed planning for this yr’s competition with the hope of a swift decision within the coming weeks.”
There’s a workaround for actors to attend festivals, but it surely’s a slim one: Duncan Crabtree-Eire, the SAG-AFTRA negotiator, has stated that “really impartial” movies in a position to safe interim agreements with the guild might have their stars do media duties. Nonetheless, that’s a proviso extra prone to spare the indie-focused Sundance Movie Competition in January somewhat than fall festivals, the place the most important titles are inclined to hail from main studios. And if the SAG strike continues into January, will probably be extra than simply festivals that really feel the pinch.
A monthslong strike would hit the awards-season ecosystem with its hardest check since Covid: If stars can’t attend ceremonies, might the occasions be held in any respect? (At the very least when these items had been on Zoom, the nominated stars confirmed up.) Put up-pandemic, status movies want all the assistance they will get on the field workplace. If they will’t be sustained by awards chatter and media-happy film stars, studios might choose to maneuver some extra weak year-end titles to 2024.
That might present an awards-season benefit to streamers like Netflix, which don’t should issue the field workplace into choices on what to debut or delay. And films which have already had a giant cultural second — like A24’s “Previous Lives,” an art-house hit from June, or Martin Scorsese’s “Killers of the Flower Moon,” which might be launched by Apple in October however obtained a serious premiere at Cannes in Could — might be higher positioned to thrive this awards season than movies that will not have full-fledged press excursions.
Will an settlement on this bitter battle be reached in time to avoid wasting awards season? Even when each side can compromise earlier than the televised ceremonies start, one change is prone to nonetheless be felt: Don’t count on the same old checklist of studio executives to be fairly so effusively thanked in acceptance speeches.