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Oppenheimer Stars Walk Out Of Premiere As SAG Goes On Strike!

Oppenheimer Stars Walk Out Premiere SAG Actors Strike

Well, it’s begun. SAG-AFTRA officially began their strike on Thursday after negotiations with the studios broke down.

Being on strike doesn’t just mean actors can’t act. It also means they can’t do promo — one of the more labor-intensive parts of their job. No press junkets, interviews in support of the movie, no Jimmy Kimmel, no Hot Ones, no Emmys, no Comic-Con, no red carpet, nada.

The first casualty? The premiere of Oppenheimer.

While the strike technically begins at midnight, El Lay time, we learned from director Christopher Nolan that his stars had walked out of the premiere the moment the decision was official. Nolan confirmed Cillian Murphy and Emily Blunt left. It’s unclear if the other stars in attendance, including Florence Pugh, Matt Damon, and Robert Downey Jr., followed suit. But with the vote to strike hitting a reported 98% we imagine they were all very much in support. They had just enough time to pose on the red carpet and then…


The studio was almost certainly relying on the unbelievably star-studded cast to sell this film, and now they can say goodbye to that. We’d guess Oppenheimer is going to be hurt far more than Barbie, which hilariously comes out the same day, as the brand name recognition of the A-bomb inventor is marginally less. But obviously not having viral TV interviews and internet videos with Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling is going to hurt that film’s hype, too.

Related: Stars Show Support For WGA Strike!

Yes, the studios have really shot themselves in the foot on this one — and for what? Greed? The unwillingness to ensure actors (and writers before them) continue to be fairly compensated as the industry evolves? As Matt Damon pointed out when asked about the strike on the Oppenheimer carpet, just minutes before it happened, it’s not the movie stars who are being screwed here — it’s the little guys. He explained:

“26,000 bucks a year is what you have to make to get your health insurance, and there are a lot of people who, residual payments are what carry them across that threshold. If those residual payments dry up, so does their healthcare, and that’s absolutely unacceptable.”

For those who don’t know, residuals are the payments actors continue to receive as movies and TV shows get played over and over in the years after they make them. After all, the studios are still profiting off of something you worked on, with your likeness in it, so you get that teeny tiny percentage of the profit. With streaming it’s been tricky — Paramount+ isn’t exactly playing movies and shows, they’re just providing access to them. All the time. So how does payment get calculated? If the studios had their way, the answer would apparently be that payment just never happens.

Yes, the latest trend in streaming is attempting to cut costs wherever possible to maximize profits — and that means finding ways to screw over workers from getting their residuals.

Have you noticed how Netflix will cancel a show after just two weeks? Before anyone even gets a chance to hear about whether it’s good or not? Apparently that’s so they don’t have to pay as much. A lot of stuff like that is what the union is fighting.

And then there’s the question of A.I. As technology evolves, corporations are trying to find ways to replace workers they have to pay with ones they don’t. It came out this week that one of the sticking points offered in the contract with SAG was that extras could be paid a single day’s work to have their likeness scanned and then used in any form, forever, with no requirement to ask consent. Would YOU want to be paid $50 one time only to see yourself in a background orgy on House Of The Dragon three years later??

All that has led to the first time since 1980 that actors have gone on strike. It’s also the first time in 63 years that both actors and writers are striking together. The last time Ronald Reagan was the president… of SAG. The studios may have thought they could wait while the 11,000 WGA members went broke and lost their homes (an AMPTP source literally said that was the plan), but now everything stops. The Screen Actor’s Guild is 160,000 strong, and Hollywood does NOT work, not even a little bit, without them.

If you still think this is just a bunch of rich Tinseltown pricks getting greedy, take a moment and think about your job, and the jobs of people you know and love. How many of them are under corporations trying to replace humans with machines? As Fran Drescher put in her fiery speech announcing the strike:

“What’s happening to us is happening across all fields of labor.”

See her powerful words against the greedy monstrosity trying squeeze out workers of all kinds (below):

[Image via MEGA/WENN.]

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Jul 13, 2023 16:47pm PDT