EXCLUSIVE: With the end of 118-day actors strike at 12:01 a.m. Thursday morning, as well as a 148-day WGA strike back in September, global Hollywood feature productions can now resume.
And while studios warned the guild that movies wouldn’t be able to start until January due to the holidays, they’ve been in pre-production on re-starts for pics that had to pause back in July.
Deadline hears that those movies set to go back this week or in very near future are Marvel Studios/Disney’s Deadpool 3 starring Ryan Reynolds and Hugh Jackman and directed by Shawn Levy (50% complete); Paramount’s Gladiator 2 over in Europe, Warner Bros’ Tim Burton directed Beetlejuice 2 (which only has two days left), Clint Eastwood’s Juror No. 2 (which has around a dozen days left) and Sony’s Venom 3.
Also a priority to resume shooting is Wayfarer Studios’ co-financed Sony adaptation of the Colleen Hoover bestselling novel, It Ends With Us, starring Blake Lively and Justin Baldoni. That pic was paused by WGA pickets back in June. The movie currently has a Feb 9, 2024 theatrical release planned. We’ll see if that date sticks.
Exhibitors and studios are bracing for more upside-down to the 2024 theatrical release schedule; Disney’s Bob Iger expressed concern on CNBC earlier today that if the strike didn’t end soon, then next summer’s theatrical slate would be in peril.
“Obviously, we’d like to try to preserve a summer of films. The entire industry is focused on that. We don’t have much time to do that,” Iger said before the AMPTP and SAG-AFTRA reached a new-three year deal tonight.
“The desire for a juicy release date next year is unlike anything I’ve ever seen,” one filmmaker with a big project in the hopper tells us. “It’s at the corporate mandate of priority.”
While Deadline reported that Deadpool 3 would miss its first weekend in May 2024 summer release, speculation has been that Captain America: Brave New World (now on July 26) would head back to that May date, and the Levy pic go to July. Warners is confident that Beetlejuice 2 will still meet its post-Labor Day Sept. 6 weekend release next year, a frame where they’ve programmed horror tentpoles such as the It and The Nun franchises.
Other movies set to resume are Apple Original Film’s untitled F1 movie starring Brad Pitt.
Of those eyeing an early 2024 shoot are Disney’s Tron 3 (no date set), Warner Bros’ Minecraft starring Jason Momoa and directed by Jared Hess (release date April 4, 2025), New Line’s Mortal Kombat 2 (no date set), and Lionsgate’s Aziz Ansari’s Keanu Reeves and Seth Rogen movie Good Fortune (shutdown by the WGA strike back in May), which will resume production. Meanwhile, Lionsgate’s Misha Green directed and written thriller Sunflower is looking to begin lensing.
In regards to James Gunn’s second DC feature, Superman: Legacy starring David Corenswet as the Man of Steel and Rachel Brosnahan as Lois Lane that movie, which was in prep all summer, is looking at a March shoot for a June 11, 2025 release.
As far as when Andy Muschietti’s The Brave and the Bold Batman films goes; that pic is still early in the process, with the director focusing now on the It prequel Max series Welcome to Derry.
Also, returning for voiceover recording will be Sony’s animated threequel Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse which was pushed off the calendar from its Easter weekend 2024 release. The pic’s sequel this past summer, Spider-Man: Across the Spider-verse, proved that there was no such thing as superhero fatigue at the box office, grossing over $690M WW. Whether Beyond the Spider-Verse lands on 2024 calendar remains in question, however, it would be quite welcome. Sony just announced that Nov. 8 next year is going to Venom 3.
One thing is certain: the 2024 calendar needs product, and the faster these movies come together, the more consistent the supply of big theatrical releases will be. That would help theaters fight off bankruptcy. (A shift in the exhibition landscape is expected due to the dual strikes with mergers among mid-sized circuits.)
“It’s better to be bigger to get better prices from suppliers,” one luxe dine-in chain exhibition boss tells us.
Back-to-back inventory this year is what has domestic box office year-to-date at $7.8 billion, +25% over the same January-early November frame. However, with big gaps on next year’s schedule expected, a slowdown is in store and a dry-period similar to the August-October desert of 2022 is projected for 2024. Another post-production jam similar to Q3 last year is apt to occur not only from features, but TV series as well. And keep in mind studios will have to sit-down for talks with IATSE next year. Hopefully that doesn’t pause feature and TV productions again.
For the most part, projects that are currently in production are in first position for actors starring in them and there isn’t any worry about said talent dropping out for a future project. For example, sources close to the Gladiator sequel say that project is in first position for Pedro Pascal, so his future projects like the Max series The Last Of Us would have to work around his schedule on the Ridley Scott-directed sequel.
With the strike set to end at 12:01 am, dealmaking and even talent meetings on projects can commence again by morning. For the past couple of months, actors were not even allowed to have general meetings with studio execs while the strike was going on, let alone negotiate a deal to join a project. A huge surge in talent deals closing is expected.
While writers have been allowed to take their specs to market after their strike wrapped, reps have still been cautious about rushing scripts, out as many preferred to have talent attached to make the package more appealing to studios. With actors now able to read scripts, that market is also expected to be flooded with packages, though how quickly studios jump to buy them is unknown at this time.