Oppenheimer cast members walked out of its London premiere Thursday evening in solidarity with US actor’s union SAG-AFTRA’s call for strike over contract negotiations with Hollywood studios. Cillian Murphy, Emily Blunt, Matt Damon and Florence Pugh left an hour before it was due to start at Odeon Luxe theatre in Leicester Square to show their support of US actors union SAG-AFTRA calling for action in contract negotiations negotiations between Hollywood studios and SAG-AFTRA.
Since 1952, two major Hollywood guilds have gone on strike together and halted production – for the first time in 60 years! Actors’ demands align with those of the Writers Guild of America which has been picketing since May 2 in an effort to secure higher wages and streaming residuals.
The strike is scheduled to last until a new agreement has been struck, which could impact award shows, premieres and events in the immediate future. There is also concern that it could disrupt shoots and rehearsals across the US where most filming occurs; consequently it is anticipated that Tuesday’s 75th Annual Emmy Awards nominations announcement may have to be postponed in light of this potential strike.
SAG-AFTRA’s 160,000 film and television performers voted to strike after failing to reach an agreement with studio bosses over improved pay, healthcare access and protection against artificial intelligence. Negotiations failed on Wednesday evening; its contract had previously run through May 2 but has now expired.
US producers have stated they cannot reach an agreement that provides similar benefits as those currently provided to writers, directors and cinematographers. Furthermore, a pay rise for performers would not be financially sustainable and so they want to reduce work hours required of them.
Oppenheimer is Christopher Nolan’s biopic of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the man responsible for leading the US nuclear bomb project. Starring Peaky Blinders star Peter Murphy as Oppenheimer as well as Emily Blunt, Matt Damon and Rami Malek – it will hit cinemas nationwide July 21.
The UK cast of this movie features predominantly British actors who do not fall under SAG-AFTRA contracts but instead must join Equity union in Britain. Reportedly, UK actors joined US actors in leaving the event en masse, although it remains unclear if this action was done as an act of solidarity or simply because they desired to attend other events. House of Cards’ cast has also joined in support of strikers by boycotting premier events for premiere episodes shot within the US and internationally. Equity has issued guidance to its members stating they do not have legal protection from dismissal for striking in solidarity with international unions, due to UK labor law which forbids employees from leaving work without notice or penalty.