As the Hollywood strikes continue, here are some of the most notable high-profile US productions that cinemagoers may have to get patient for.
Hollywood and the entire movie industry has been shut down.
Months since the beginning of the Writers Guild of America strike, the Screen Actors Guild joining the picket line has meant that, for the first time in 60 years, both the writers and the actors of America are striking at the same time.
The two guilds want studios and streaming services to offer better pay, increased royalties, higher contributions to their pension and health plans, and safeguards on the use of AI in the industry.
It is unclear how long this strike will last. The longest WGA strike lasted 153 days, while in 1980 actors went on strike for more than three months.
How will viewers be affected?
Late-night talk shows and many television productions were already put on long-term hiatus due to the writers strike.
Shows like The Last of Us, Yellowjackets, American Horror Story, Big Mouth, Stranger Things, Abbott Elementary, Severance and Daredevil: Born Again, have all been halted, and late-night shows like Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, Late Night with Seth Meyers and countless others have also gone dark.
Now movie tentpoles, some in mid-production, are shutting down too.
How much of an impact these halts on production will have will depend on how long the strikes last, and while it might take some time for general audiences to feel the effects of the ongoing strikes, many upcoming movie releases will be affected.
Small indie studios like A24 agreed to SAG's terms and will continue filming and using its actors during the strike. This means that audiences might only be getting independently-financed, as well as many European and Asian films this fall. This is hardly a bad thing, as some under-the-radar gems will get the platform and attention they deserve.
However, these are some of the most notable high-profile US productions that cinemagoers may have to get patient for.
Set to open this year’s Venice Film Festival, Luca Guadagnino’s hotly anticipated love triangle romance set around the tennis courts has been pulled from the festival slate over the strikes. The MGM / Amazon film, starring Zendaya and Josh O’Connor, will instead move to April 2024. The festival has announced that now the opening film will be Edoardo De Angelis’s Italian drama Comandante, as the Lido will be focusing on European and Asian productions this year, a Plan B that will dent the festival’s longstanding reputation for premiering the major Oscar winners for the following year. Speaking of Zendaya...
Dune: Part Two
There are rumours that Warner Bros is looking to delay the release of its November tentpole Dune: Part Two, also starring Zendaya and Timothée Chalamet. A Variety report also said the studio was considering moving The Color Purple and DC’s Aquaman and The Lost Kingdom. Indeed, the sequel to Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi epic Dune may be riding a huge sandworm all the way from 3 November 2023 to an undisclosed date in 2024. It makes sense, as a film like Dune: Part Two would benefit greatly from the participation of its all-star cast — which also includes Austin Butler, Florence Pugh, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin and Christopher Walken — and current union restrictions say those actors cannot promote past or future work made and released by struck companies. Still, this was one of our most eager anticipated titles of 2023, so fingers crossed it may still get released this year.
Tim Burton's classic 1988 horror-comedy Beetlejuice is joining the long (and increasingly exhausting) line of iconic films receiving a legacy sequel in 2024. Original stars Michael Keaton, Catherine O'Hara, and Winona Ryder join franchise newcomer Jenna Ortega for the new film, which was originally announced in February 2022. Filming had started in May, taking place in both England and Vermont, US. The film currently has a release date of 6 September 2024, but there are no guarantees that the date will hold, as it is expected to undergo significant delays as production has been brought to a complete halt. But let’s face facts: fans have had to wait 35 years for a sequel – they can wait a little longer.
Fast X Part 2
Without trying to minimize the strikes and its consequences, this is one delay we’re not too bummed about. The tenth instalment of the Fast & Furious franchise, Fast X, came out earlier this year, and it was utter rubbish. The ending, a massive cliffhanger that offered little resolution (or basic narrative logic) to the film's ongoing ‘storyline’, once again showed that this was one franchise in dire need of better writers and a definitive full stop. As it stands, audiences will have to wait until minimum 2025 for what is billed as the franchise’s conclusion. Then we can all rest easy that we’ll get a break from hearing Vin Diesel indistinctively grumbling about how he’s got family, not friends, all with the acting charisma of a disgruntled boiled egg.
After his extended cameo in Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer, Rami Malek was scheduled to start work on The Amateur, an espionage thriller in which he will play a CIA cryptographer forced to investigate the case of his wife's murder. Filming reportedly began at the beginning of June, with Black Mirror and Slow Horses director James Hawes on the director’s chair. Its November 2024 release date will most probably be pushed back.
After Morbius and the middling Venom sequel, Venom: Let There Be Carnage, Sony need a live-action win. Production on the currently untitled Venom 3 reportedly kicked off in June, with Tom Hardy also receiving a writing credit. Both Juno Temple and Chiwetel Ejiofor are joining the project, and the original October 2024 date might still hold, depending on how long the strikes continue. But safe to say that there’s a lot riding on this one. Speaking of the Spider-verse...
Spider-Man: Beyond The Spider-Verse
This year’s Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse is one of our favourite films of the year so far, and left audiences on a tantalising cliffhanger, teasing the third and final instalment in a vibrant series that has surpassed all expectations. The animated film is currently scheduled to hit theatres on 29 March 2024, but in all likelihood, we’ll have to wait longer, as the cast have yet to record their lines.
Mission: Impossible - Dead Reckoning Part Two
The sequel to this summer’s middlingDead Reckoning Part One has already completed work on most of its major action sequences. However, there are still plenty of scenes to shoot for the two-part event of the beloved spy franchise. The production was on a scheduled hiatus while Tom Cruise and writer-director Christopher McQuarrie were on promotional duties for the first chapter, in what is rumoured to be Cruise’s swansong in the role of Ethan Hunt. McQuarrie indicated that Part Two was only about 40% finished at the time the writers' strike broke out last month. The original start date of 28 June 2024 seems, rather fittingly, like Mission: Impossible at this point.
23 years after Russell Crowe played Maximus Decimus Meridius, work finally began on the untitled Gladiator 2, with Ridley Scott in the director's chair once again for yet another legacy sequel. Noticing a trend? It’s not a necessary sequel by any means, but the pitch of following Maximus' son, played by Paul Mescal, as he vows revenge for his dad’s death does sound enticing. He is joined by the returning Djimon Honsou and Connie Nielsen, as well as Pedro Pascal and Denzel Washington. It was filming in Morocco at the time of the strike hitting, and while reportedly two-thirds of the way done, the 22 November 2024 start date will probably be pushed back to 2025.
Wicked - Parts 1 and 2
The big-screen adaptation of the smash hit musical Wicked has also been halted. Development was announced in 2012 before casting was revealed in 2021 and production started in 2022, with Ariana Grande and Cynthia Erivo in the leads and the director of Crazy Rich Asians, Jon M Chu, at the helm. Split into two parts, the first was set to drop in November 2024, with the second part landing almost exactly one year later in 2025. Though filming began back in December 2022, after delays due to the pandemic, you can bet these two films will be released in 2025 and 2026 respectively.
Almost thirty years after the original film hit theatres in 1996, Twisters is the long-delayed sequel to the iconic disaster movie Twister. Audiences were gearing up for a 19 July 2024 release, a deadline which will be tough to meet, as Twisters is believed to have only begun filming in May. Add in post-production for all the required special effects, and we’re still far from seeing this one blow us away on the big screen.
Marvel Studios plan ahead, and consequently, their four big projects currently in production have been affected by both the writers' and actors' strikes. Captain America: Brave New World did manage to wrap production before being truly affected (though reshoots are verboten), while production on both Blade and Thunderbolts has shut down. Then there’s the third Deadpool movie, the first of Fox's former properties to release under the MCU banner, starring Ryan Reynolds as Wade "Deadpool" Wilson and Hugh Jackman returning as Wolverine, pictured in a comic-accurate yellow and blue suit which sent the internet into a full meltdown. Marvel need a win, as superhero films have been underperforming of late, and their carefully mapped out schedule will have to be rethought, as there’s no way the movie will be done in time for its original 3 May 2024 release.
Paddington In Peru
Cry us a river over the Fast X sequel, but this is the delay that really hurts. Paddington 2 was an absolute joy, a heartwarming romp that became the highest-rated movie of all time on Rotten Tomatoes in 2017. It’s been six long years and we were finally about to get a third instalment. The production was set to begin in July, but now the indefinite hiatus means that audiences will have to sit tight until probably 2025 for the beloved marmalade sandwich-eating ursin's homecoming to Peru.
There we have it.
It remains to be seen whether other high-profile 2023 releases like Yorgos Lanthimos’ Poor Things and Michael Mann’s Ferrari (both initially set to premiere in Venice), as well as Disney’s The Marvels on 10 November, Lionsgate’s franchise reboot The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes on 17 November, and Sony’s Columbia Pictures’ Napoleon, directed by Ridley Scott and starring Joaquin Phoenix, on 22 November will be given planned theatrical rollouts without their casts hitting the promotional press tours.
The Hollywood strikes continue...