The cast of Disney’s “Haunted Mansion” was only there in spirit. Following the outbreak of the SAG-AFTRA strike, film stars skipped Saturday night premiere for theme park film adaptation
The film, the second adaptation of Disney’s iconic Haunted Mansion attraction after Eddie Murphy’s 2003 film, stars a large cast that includes LaKeith Stanfield, Tiffany Haddish, Danny DeVito, Rosario Dawson, Jamie Lee Curtis, Winona Ryder, Dan Levy, Hasan Minhaj, Chase W. Dillon, Marilu Henner and Lindsay Lamb. None of the actors attended the red carpet at Disneyland in Anaheim, according to Variety. Under the terms of the SAG-AFTRA strike, which began on Thursday, members of the guild are unable to take part in press junkets or promotional activities for studio films they are in while the guild is on work stoppage.
Instead, the carpet — which took place at the Hyperion Theater in the Disney California Adventure area of the park — featured costumed performers dressed as classic Disney villains like the Evil Queen, Maleficent, and Cruella de Vil, as well as Minnie and Mickey Mouse. According to Variety, Disney likely continued with the premiere due to revenue from corporate sponsors like State Farm, Zillow, New Orleans & Company, and Michael’s.
One notable guest who showed up at the premiere is Justin Simien, the film’s director. In an interview with Variety he said he was “sad” the cast couldn’t attend, but he supports the strike. Before the theatrical screening began, Simien joked, “Obviously, we’re here at a strange time in the industry. There are some people who are not here. Of course, I’m referring to the numerous walkouts in ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars,’” before giving a shout-out to the cast for their work on the film.
Dawson spoke to Variety on Friday as he staked out the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank. Speaking about the ongoing premiere, Dawson said, “It just gives more exposure to what we’re trying to talk about here and negotiate here. People don’t want to take a break from work, but they are willing to push for justice in this space.
The premiere of “Haunted Mansion” comes shortly after Disney CEO Bob Iger made controversial remarks about the ongoing WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes, calling the union’s demands “unrealistic” and “very disturbing.” In his interview with Variety, Simien opened up about Iger’s statements, saying that “I’d really like to sit down with him and talk. I don’t know if the way he meant it is how I felt.
She continued, “I’d love to talk to him about the reality we all face as artists to make the impossible happen every day.”
“Haunted Mansion,” which hits theaters July 28, is one of many Hollywood films adapting their premieres in response to the SAG-AFTRA strike. Universal canceled the red carpet for the New York premiere of “Oppenheimer” on July 17, after the cast left the carpet during the British premiere on Thursday. Apple’s “The Beanie Bubble” and Paramount’s “Special Opps: Lioness” also canceled their previews.