It’s already been a tough year for movie theaters, with the North American box office down nearly 20 percent from the previous year. And only then the actors could promote their films.
SAG-AFTRA, the actors’ union, has been on strike since Friday, with its 160,000 members officially barred not only from starring in projects involving major Hollywood studios, but also from any promotional efforts for those movies and TV shows. He has also been barred from participating in the events that have already taken place. Completed
That means no appearances online or in person, including next week’s Comic-Con International in San Diego, several fall film festivals, and no film premieres or television promotional events. SAG-AFTRA officials held conference calls with Hollywood’s top agencies and publicists this week to explain the rules of the strike for both production and promotion of upcoming projects. At the same time, after the announcement of the strike on Thursday, the union issued rules for its membership.
Terry Press, Hollywood’s top marketer, said, “It’s going to be expensive, because the only way to compensate for the lack of publicity is to buy more noise.” “When you don’t have any sort of publicity, which is somewhat free, you have to try to amplify that noise.
“After all, it’s expensive,” he adds, “especially in the summer, where there are very few ads that you can actually buy that are going to attract large groups of people.”
This is going to be weird too. This was clear even before the actors’ union announced its approval for the strike on Thursday. A few hours ago, the premiere of the film “Oppenheimer” starring director Christopher Nolan was taking place in London.
“Oppenheimer” is one of the most anticipated films of the summer, a film that theater owners are pointing to — along with Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie” and the latest “Mission: Impossible” chapter with Tom Cruise — as one such film. A struggling business in the form of something that can fill a lifetime.
But at the premiere at the Odeon Theater in Leicester Square, it was clear that the strike would have an effect. First, the event was moved forward an hour so that a cast full of boldface names including Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, Robert Downey Jr., Florence Pugh and Cillian Murphy could walk the red carpet. They all then left before the screening began in solidarity with the union.
“They’re going to write their picket signs,” Mr. Nolan quipped to the crowd of 800 people.
Universal Pictures said it will also hold the New York premiere of “Oppenheimer” on Monday, but none of the cast will be attending.
The lack of busy premieres and the usual run of promotions for films is troubling for the movie theater industry, which is hoping that business will pick up in the second half of the year.
The strike is also a concern for the fall film festival circuit, which relies on actors making in-person appearances to promote their prestige films as they prepare for awards season. Ms. Press said, “The whole festival circuit, those films are nothing but propaganda driven.”
Usually actors in search of Oscar gold make the pilgrimage to Italy in late August for the Venice International Film Festival, then to Colorado for the Telluride Film Festival and then to Canada for the Toronto International Film Festival – the three opening stops . campaign trail.
“The grammar of releasing those films requires the festival circuit,” Ms. Press said. “I think that’s when you will face serious consequences.”
Television has also been affected. Despite the Emmy nominations being announced on Wednesday, none of the actors nominated will be able to promote their work. Asked if the award show – which is set for September but is likely to be postponed if the walkout prolongs – would be affected by the strike, the union’s chief negotiator Duncan Crabtree-Ireland said: “Our strike rules don’t allow anyone form of promotion for television series, or streaming series, that are produced under these contracts. My expectation is that this will eliminate any actor participation in Emmy promotional campaigns.”