Hollywood Studios Launch Rescue Mission to Save 2024 Tentpoles as Actors Strike Ends

Hollywood Studios Launch Rescue Mission to Save 2024 Tentpoles as Actors Strike Ends

The rescue mission to save Hollywood’s 2024 calendar — and the summer lineup in particular — has officially commenced now that the actors’ strike has been resolved.

High drama unfolded on Wednesday as the studios informed SAG-AFTRA that it had until 5 p.m. PT to decide whether to accept their final offer. Otherwise, the studios said there was little hope of saving the new TV season or the 2024 summer release calendar. “It’s catastrophic for the schedule if we don’t get a deal done,” explained one studio-side insider minutes before word broke that SAG had indeed voted to accept the offer.

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Earlier in the day, Disney chief Bob Iger also sounded the warning cry when saying there wasn’t much time left to save his studio’s summer slate.

Dozens of titles have already shifted their release dates because of the actors’ strike — and the preceding writers’ strike, which ended in late September — and more are certain to follow. Within hours of the deal being announced, for instance, Sony pushed back the release of Venom 3 from July 12, 2024, to Nov. 8, 2024 in order to provide more of a cushion.

In recent weeks, Disney delayed 2024 spring tentpoles Snow White and Elio by a year or more, while Paramount pushed back the release of the next Mission: Impossible installment from summer 2024 to 2025 and A Quiet Place: Day One by several months from spring to June 2024. Sony has likewise made a slew of changes to its release lineup. And then there are the countless smaller and midrange films from major studios, mini-majors and indie outfits that must find their way.

“The strikes clearly threw the movie release calendar into disarray and chaos almost immediately,” says Comscore’s chief box office analyst Paul Dergarabedian. “They caused a level of uncertainty and consternation that rivals even the COVID-19 pandemic, another industry-altering event.”

For weeks, studio distribution executives and cinema owners have warned that Hollywood’s labor woes could throw the box office into a state of chaos just as moviegoing was beginning to rebound after the pandemic. This warning became reality over the Nov. 3-5 weekend weekend as box office revenue fell off a cliff. In recent years the first weekend of November has been a favorite launching pad for Hollywood movies that want to take part in the year-end holiday parade, including 2017’s Thor: Ragnarok or 2018’s Bohemian Rhapsody.

This year, the marquee was notably devoid of high-profile product after Legendary and Warner Bros. Dune: Part Two fled the Nov. 3-5 weekend for March 2024 because of the SAG-AFTRA strike, which prohibited actors such as Timothée Chalamet or Zendaya or from doing any promotion.

Sans Dune or another new big Hollywood release, domestic box office revenue came in at around $65 million for the weekend, one of the lowest showings of the year. More box office unrest is expected to follow in the first quarter 2024 because of the content slowdown, but now that the actors’ strike is over, studios will race to finish their tentpoles for next summer, as well as event pics slated for the back half of 2024 or beyond in 2025.

It will be a Herculean effort for all involved since there will be a backlog of projects vying for strained resources, including sound stages and crews. Visual effects houses, likewise, will be stretched thin, and it will be a race to complete effects for any tentpole aiming for summer.

Below are key titles hanging in the balance.

Deadpool 3 (Disney/Marvel)

Release date: May 3, 2024

Star/producer Ryan Reynolds, director Shawn Levy and co-star Hugh Jackman have been itching to get back to work on their Marvel Studios film, which is the most important project for the studio outside of anything with Avengers in the title. There’s rampant speculation that the threequel — which was about halfway done shooting when the SAG strike began — will swap release dates with fellow Marvel pic Captain America: Brave New World, which is largely done and set to fly into theaters July 26. That way, Deadpool 3 can still be released in summer, a lucrative corridor for superhero fare. (Another sign that the film won’t open May 3 is that director John Krasinski’s If, starring Reynolds, is now opening May 17. That film is also from Paramount.) The filmmakers have also done editing and special-effects work on the portion that was shot.

Deadpool 3 could be back up and shooting in London in a few weeks, although no official plan has been revealed. Hollywood studios paid to keep the sets up for some of the movies that were shut down mid-stream; that pic is among them.

Furiosa (Warner Bros.)

Release date: May 24, 2024

George Miller wrapped principal photography on his Mad Max: Fury Road prequel last year, so it apparently will be ready to to go. Further, Warners is said to be keen on sending it to the Cannes Film Festival. Expectations are high, as Fury Road became an instant classic and is regarded as perhaps the greatest action movie this century. Anya Taylor-Joy, who steps in for Charlize Theron as a younger Furiosa, wrote on Instagram in October 2022, “It has been an honour and a privilege to create with you all… thank you for making me tougher than I ever thought I could be. Fire, blood and guzzoline.”

Twisters (Universal)

Release date: July 19, 2024

Universal is anchoring its live-action summer lineup with Twisters, the sequel to the 1996 hit that starred Bill Paxton and Helen Hunt. According to sources, there should be enough time to finish shooting and complete post-production work, which will include plenty of visual effects. Twisters‘ cast led by by Daisy Edgar-Jones, Glenn Powell and Anthony Ramos.

Venom 3 (Sony)

Release date: Nov. 8, 2024 (previous date was July 12, 2024)

Though Sony pushed a slew of films due to the strike, it actually gave Venom 3 a release date of July 12, 2024 amid the labor woes. This signaled the studio wants the film, which shot an unknown about of material in Spain earlier this year, to be ready for 2024. But then as the strike ended, Sony pushed the date back three months, out of summer. Tom Hardy once again stars as the Marvel anti-hero, with longtime collaborator Kelly Marcel directing.

Gladiator 2 (Paramount)

Release date: Nov. 24, 2024

Ridley Scott filmed about half of his sequel to the 2000 Oscar-winning feature that has filmed in Morocco and Malta. Paul Mescal, Pedro Pascal, Connie Nielsen and Denzel Washington are among the cast. Scott has promotional duties for his Apple feature Napoleon, which bows in theaters on Nov. 22 via Sony, but plans to be back at work on Gladiator 2 potentially by the end of the year or the beginning of the new year. Scott has already edited around 90 minutes of footage he’s already shot.

Wicked 1 and Wicked 2 (Universal)

Release Date: Nov. 27, 2024 and Nov. 26, 2025

Filmmaker Jon M. Chu revealed July 19 that the films were just a few days of wrapping principal photography. “It’s been very painful to put a halt to it all but we will be back,” he wrote on X. “And we will finish properly strong when the time is right. My heart goes out to our cast and crew who were cut short of what we came here to complete together. More to come but in the meantime I’m excited to excavate what we have shot for the past year here in Oz (release date shouldn’t be affected).”

Mission: Impossible 8 (Paramount)

Release date: May 23, 2025 (delayed a year)

Paramount announced Oct. 23 it was pushing back the release of the next Mission: Impossible movie from June 28, 2024 to May 23, 2025. To date, it is by far the biggest movie to abandon the 2024 summer corridor.

The feature first shut down production to allow for star Tom Cruise and the cast to promote Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part One, which hit theaters this past July. The hiatus continued when the SAG-AFTRA strike commenced.

Director Christopher McQuarrie and editor Eddie Hamilton spent downtime during the strike to edit together what they had so far of the next movie. It’s unclear how much was filmed (one source believes it’s about 40-50 percent, but McQuarrie has stated much more was done, telling Collider in July: “We’ve shot all but one of our international locations. We’ve shot our big action except for the biggest set piece, the central set piece of the film, which is massive and unlike anything we’ve done.”

Either way, the extra year will give the film some breathing room, and perhaps allow the team to tweak their plans following the underwhelming domestic box office performance of Dead Reckoning Part One. The original plan was for the next installment to be titled Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoning Part Two, but that no longer appears to be the case.

Generally speaking, studio distribution insiders say the reasoning behind pushing a film back by a entire year, versus finding another date in 2024, is to avoid a repeat of COVID-19 pandemic when some tentpoles were pushed multiple times — including Dead Reckoning Part One or James Bond installment No Time to Die in a never-ending game of dominoes.