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The US entertainment industry has returned to work after the the Sag-Aftra actors’ union reached a tentative deal with studios and streamers. Picture: UNSPLASH/JAKE BLUCKER
The US entertainment industry has returned to work after the the Sag-Aftra actors’ union reached a tentative deal with studios and streamers. Picture: UNSPLASH/JAKE BLUCKER

Los Angeles — Hours before the Hollywood actors’ strike officially ended, Beth Goodnight’s phone began ringing with opportunity.

The head of a Hollywood construction company and prop shop that bears her name dispatched two project managers to begin bidding for work. By the end of the day, they had crunched numbers on seven projects, including a Super Bowl commercial, a television show, a large event and smaller pieces that add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“My phone would not stop ringing and buzzing,” said Goodnight, who estimated she may have spoken to as many as 100 people, including her laid-off workers. “I did not imagine the wave of tears that came, because ... like Sisyphus being able to put down a 200 pound rock, I wasn’t even aware of how much pressure I was under.”

The Sag-Aftra actors’ union reached a tentative deal with the major studios and streamers on Wednesday, opening the floodgates to Hollywood production and returning the entertainment industry to work after dual writers’ and actors’ strikes stopped most filming. Writers reached a deal in late September after going on strike in May.

Major film projects, such as Ridley Scott’s historical epic Gladiator 2, are expected to return to production by the end of 2023 or early 2024, according to one source familiar with the project. Schedules are being matched, flights to Malta and accommodations are being booked, and other preparations are under way.

Marvel Studios’ Deadpool 3, a priority project for Walt Disney, will most likely resume filming in November, after the actors’ strike shut down production in July. Disney announced on Thursday that the new Deadpool movie would debut in late July, rather than early May as originally planned.

Martial arts film Mortal Kombat 2 will resume shooting on the Gold Coast of Australia.

“We don’t have a lot of locations, so we ended up just holding all the sets,” said producer Todd Garner. “We’re basically ready to go, we just have to turn the lights back on and get everybody back.”

One hurdle to resuming production will be co-ordinating the schedule of A-list actors.

“It’s going to be bedlam,” said a talent agent, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter. Some actors will want to spend their next few months promoting their films in the Oscar race rather than going to a set to shoot, holding up a production that other actors want to return to. The scheduling conflicts could force some projects to be dropped altogether.

“A lot of plans, I think, are going to fall by the wayside,” the agent said.

Meanwhile, production executives throughout the industry are contacting lighting houses, prop shops and costumiers, many of whom were forced to lay off workers, to make preparations for returning to the set.

It will take time, however, for many projects to restart. Producers will have to book facilities and hire staff before they begin building sets and renting props.

“It’s not going to be business as usual for a few months, and probably not until after the first of the year,” said Pam Elyea, owner of prop supplier History for Hire. Her company has provided props for movies from the 1997 hit Titanic to 2023’s Oppenheimer.

One feature film the company had been working on just got delayed until 2024, she said.

Reuters

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