Warner Bros. / Universal / Paramount
From the “Avengers” sequels to the “Transformers” movies, many summer blockbusters end with cities on fire and the fate of the world hanging in the balance. CGI usually evokes those moments. But major studios looking to whip up the hell out of their July or August releases may be in a very real bind that not even Superman can outrun.
A looming actors’ strike could wreak havoc on the marketing campaigns of several major film releases — including Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer,” Greta Gerwig’s “Barbie” and the series relaunch of “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem.” Leaving the studios changed plans to sign him before the June 30 deadline for a new SAG-AFRTRA contract.
If that date comes and goes without a new deal, the union members (which include every movie star you can name) could strike strike lines. This means that they will not be available nor will they be willing to promote their latest movie. Already, the Writers Guild of America strike has created a promotional headache for TV and streaming shows looking to launch Emmy campaigns. It also created dilemmas for publicists hoping to score press reviews for book clients opening in theaters or debuting in Cannes or Tribeca.
“Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem,” Paramount and Nickelodeon’s attempt to reboot the popular family franchise for a new generation of moviegoers, has moved its press assignment from July to June in hopes of getting ahead of any potential strike. Paramount’s other major release, Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part 1, which opens July 12, will not be affected by the cast strike. The studio is releasing the film to international press June 18-19, which means most of its interviews will be funded if talks with SAG-AFTRA falter.
While every major studio was teasing the prospect, Nolan’s new epic “Oppenheimer” is still holding steady with its New York dates from July 7-8. This falls after the June 30 deadline and could be affected. “Haunted Mansion,” a Walt Disney Studios summer blockbuster based on its own theme park ride, will host an unwanted party for the world’s press ahead of deadline — taking place June 29-30 in New Orleans, where the movie was filmed and staged. photographed. Owen Wilson, Rosario Dawson, Jamie Lee Curtis, Lakeith Stanfield, and Jared Leto are all in the project, which opens July 28. One insider said non-important dates were held up before strike talks began.
Spokespeople for Paramount, Universal, Disney and Warner Bros. declined to comment for this article.
The life cycle of a movie marketing campaign can vary, but in the case of most summer tentpoles, hype can start as early as two years before release, sources said — think first-look posters and trailers. About four to six months before opening weekend, studios will engage in pioneering publications for flashy cover stories, as Warner Bros. did. Recently with Ryan Gosling (GQ Style) and Margot Robbie (Vogue) in support of “Barbie”. This film is also set to be released on July 7-8, putting it in the crosshairs of the strike. Some interviews are completed on the pre-strike deadline to be rolled out later, according to an individual familiar with the cast’s schedules.
“The past month has been about moving the needle,” added another veteran film marketer. This includes global photo calls with the cast, local and international talk show appearances, red carpet premieres in multiple cities, and weekly magazine covers. One studio executive said that thanks to the writers’ strike, prime night shows are dark and therefore not an option at the moment. But, “No big red carpet the week the movie premieres? That sure hurts.”
The CEO, like many of those on the studios and producers side facing the current union, is baffled by the idea of going out of business. “The union is fighting for wages. The strike will hurt box office revenue, affecting the actors’ compensation. They said: ‘If I were someone like Margot Robbie, as producer and star of ‘Barbie’, I wouldn’t be happy.”
A publicist was already preparing to spend the summer without booking in-depth magazine profiles or appearing on morning TV shows. “I think I’m going to do a lot of documentaries,” they said.
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