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WGA Strike Claims Another Victim – SNL – Though Feature Production Continues as DGA & SAG-AFTRA Invoke Their “No-Strike” Clauses

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As something of a comedy nerd, Saturday Night Live has been a part of my weekend ritual for as long as I can remember, and I was looking forward to seeing Pete Davidson return to the show this week, though I suspect he was slotted there because Lorne Michaels, like the rest of us, all but knew this episode would never go to air due to the WGA strike.

See, it’s a lot easier to cancel on homegrown talent like Davidson than a major A-list star whose episode had already been promoted. Is this a speculative and conspiratorial line of thinking? Perhaps. At least Davidson put his would-be hosting stint to good use, as he appeared as a guest on The Tonight Show to promote his new Peacock series Bupkis, and said, “It sucks because it just feeds [the] weird story I have in my head, like, of course that would happen to me.”

Regardless of whether it was intentional, it could be a while before we see Colin Jost and Michael Che back behind the Weekend Update desk, as SNL typically signs off for the summer in late May, and the strike will almost certainly last beyond then.

Lil Uzi Vert has been slated to be this week’s musical guest, though NBC said in a statement that “SNL will air repeats until further notice starting Saturday, May 6.” During the writers strike of 2007-08, NBC only aired 12 episodes of SNL, making it the shortest season in the series’ entire run, and the only one that didn’t feature a Christmas episode. Bah humbug, I say, though my heart goes out to SNL’s now out-of-work crew members in addition to the show’s striking writers.

While SNL will be shutting down, numerous studio features will be moving ahead, owing to the fact that they’re already in production, though on-set rewrites will be strictly forbidden, so no one can change a single comma, let alone a word.

Bad Boys 3
Will Smith and Martin Lawrence in Bad Boys 3/Sony Pictures

According to Deadline, those projects include Sony’s Bad Boys 4 and its untitled Ghostbusters: Afterlife sequel, which are currently shooting in Atlanta and New York City, respectively; Focus’ new Nosferatu movie, which director Robert Eggers has nearly wrapped in central Europe; Legendary’s Faces of Death, which has two weeks left to go down in Louisiana; 20th Century Studios’ new Alien movie, which director Fede Alvarez will complete in mid-June around the same time that Bad Boys 4 wraps up. Disney, for its part, has multiple movies in the can, such as a new Snow White movie starring Rachel Zegler and Gal Gadot as the Evil Queen, as well as the animated movie Elio (due March 1, 2024).

Both the DGA and SAG-AFTRA invoked the “no strike” clauses in their collective bargaining agreements, so members of both unions will have to work until June 30, when both of their contracts expire.

“If you are contracted to work on a project that continues production while the WGA is on strike, you are legally obligated to continue working by your personal services agreement and the ‘no strike’ clause in our collective bargaining agreements.” read a memo from SAG-AFTRA to its 160,000+ members.

That said, the Teamsters have announced their full support of the WGA, so for movies filming here in the U.S., that formidable union could exacerbate production delays, though the Teamsters don’t have as big a presence overseas.

Come Memorial Day weekend, the studios are expected to reassess the projects that are scheduled to start production in June, as they’ll know exactly how far apart they remain in their negotiations with the WGA. Again, they’ve been preparing for this very day for months now, if not years. Their current release calendars will only start to be affected if the strike lasts four months or longer, while I personally don’t expect it to, though some insiders worry it could last all summer.

Beetlejuice
Michael Keaton in Beetlejuice/Warner Bros.

Per Deadline, those projects that are expected to move forward in June no matter what include Marvel’s Thunderbolts; Paramount’s untitled Gladiator sequel from Ridley Scott, who will be shooting in Europe with stars Paul Mescal and Denzel Washington; Clint Eastwood‘s latest WB movie Juror No. 2; WB’s Beetlejuice sequel reuniting Tim Burton and Michael Keaton; and New Line’s sequel to Mortal Kombat.

James Gunn‘s Superman: Legacy isn’t slated to shoot until next year, so Warner Bros. can afford to wait out the strike during pre-production, as can Paramount with Sonic the Hedgehog 3. That said, it’ll be interesting to see whether Gunn himself crosses the picket line as the director of both Superman and the head of DC Studios, or whether he’ll leave the latter in the capable hands of Peter Safran.

The situation recalls that of J.J. Abrams, who dutifully reported to set to direct Star Trek even though he was a member of the WGA. The difference, of course — and I mean this with all due respect because I personally like J.J. and have only ever heard good things about him — is that Abrams was never a man of the people. That’s why people love Gunn, and why it’ll be very interesting to see what he does.

Meanwhile, the studios will inevitably use this strike as an excuse to clean house, not just in terms of personnel who are no longer needed, but numerous development projects that were thisclose to going before cameras. The last strike helped nix numerous projects, George Miller‘s Justice League and Oliver Stone‘s My Lai Massacre movie Pinkville among them, though it wasn’t solely responsible for their demise. What the strike did yield, however, was a bunch of undercooked movies that felt rush, and naturally, there will be movies that are currently prepping to shoot that would really benefit from having a writer on set, so their quality will suffer, which will likely hurt their chances at the box office, and we’re right back to the crux of this strike — not enough money to go around.

Of course, there is enough money, and the studios are just being cheapskates, holding onto their pursestrings for dear life, but it’ll take some time before they give in to the WGA. Fortunately, the industry’s writers appear to be in it for the long haul.

The Falcon and the Winter Soldier
Anthony Mackie in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier/Marvel Studios

Notable Studio Movies Currently in Production Outside of L.A.

Bilall Fallah and Adil El Arbi‘s Bad Boys 4 (Atlanta via Sony)

Jon M. Chu‘s Wicked Part 1 (London via Universal)

Fede Alvarez‘s Untitled Alien Franchise Movie (Budapest via 20th Century Studios)

Jason Reitman‘s Untitled Ghostbusters Franchise Movie (NYC via Sony Pictures)

Isa Mazzei and Daniel Goldhaber‘s Faces of Death (Louisiana via Legendary)

Julius Onah‘s Captain America: New World Order (Atlanta via Marvel/Disney)

Robert EggersNosferatu (Central Europe via Focus Features)

Mickey 17
Robert Pattinson in Mickey 17/Warner Bros.

Notable Studio Movies From First Half of 2024 That Are Already in Post-Production

Reinaldo Marcus Green‘s Bob Marley: One Love (Jan. 12 via Paramount)

Barry Levinson‘s Wise Guys (Feb. 2 via Warner Bros.)

Michael Sarnoski’s A Quiet Place: Day One (March 8 via Paramount)

Adam Wingard‘s Godzilla vs. King Kong: The New Empire (March 24 via Warner Bros.)

Bong Joon-ho‘s Mickey 17 (March 29 via Warner Bros.)

George Miller‘s Furiosa (May 24 via Warner Bros.)

John Krasinski‘s IF (May 24 via Paramount)

Christopher McQuarrie‘s Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part 2 (June 28 via Paramount)

Dave Green‘s Coyote vs. Acme (TBD via Warner Bros)

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