Slow down of movie releases due to strike has Oakville cinema owner ‘petrified’

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Published July 19, 2023 at 2:35 pm

Film.ca Cinemas, where Sandler filmed You Are SO Not Invited to my Bat Mitzvah!

Summer nights in Oakville often include heading to the movie theatre, grabbing a bag of popcorn and a drink, and settling in to watch film’s hottest stars on the big screen in the latest blockbuster release.

Moviegoers had long waited to return to the theatre after COVID-19 shutdown box offices for two years and now dual Hollywood strikes may once again prevent them from watching the latest hot flick on the big screen.

The possibility of a lengthy strike by movie stars represented by the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, and talent backed by the Writers Guild of America has Canadian cinemas bracing themselves for a slowdown in film releases.

The actors and writers could be on the picket lines for months as they seek better wages and protections from artificial intelligence.

The strikes, which immediately stopped the production and promotion of films and television shows, stand to slow down the flow of content as studios and distributors run out of movies completed before the strike to release.

And that has local theatre owners like Oakville’s Jeff Knoll very concerned about what’s ahead.

“I am absolutely petrified about it,” said Knoll, chief executive of Film.ca Cinemas on Speers Rd. “We barely survived the pandemic…and we are quite nervous about what the future is going to hold with all that’s going on in Hollywood right now.”

This week alone, Knoll’s theatre has scheduled screenings of “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One” and “Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny,” along with the hotly-anticipated “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer.”

Knoll, however, fears that flow of Hollywood fare moviegoers have waited months, if not years, to see could ease up soon.

“There’s no question that if the strike drags out, (studios) are going to have to either start spreading out their content or simply postponing it until a point in the future when they anticipate the strike will be over,” he said.

The dual strikes are also preventing film stars from walking red carpets, participating in press junkets and interviews and taping new marketing materials.

The cast of “Oppenheimer,” for example, walked out of their premiere in solidarity with striking workers last week, while Disney sent Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Maleficent and Cruella de Vil down the “Haunted Mansion” red carpet in lieu of stars Tiffany Haddish, Danny DeVito and Rosario Dawson over the weekend.

Knoll also suspects “Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One” had a rough ride at the box office because of the strikes.

“It didn’t perform the way it was supposed to perform over the weekend and it could very well be because there wasn’t as much publicity with the stars, particularly Tom Cruise, leading up to opening day,” he said.

If films do slow down, Knoll said he will look at bringing in more Canadian fare and movies from parts of the globe not as impacted by the strike. Bollywood films and screenings of hits like “Harry Potter” could also factor into Film.ca’s schedule.

 

  • With files from Canadian Press
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