Hollywood is on shutdown — which means studios are scrambling to figure out what to do with some of their upcoming big-budget releases.
Amid two contentious Hollywood labor strikes, Warner Bros. Film Group is strongly considering pushing the Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya tentpole to next year from its current Nov. 3 slot, three individuals with knowledge of discussions told Variety. The film is a co-production with Legendary Entertainment and both parties must agree on a new release date, said one insider. Legendary has yet to be approached by WB about a move, they added. Another source familiar with Warner Bros. said that releases are moving forward as originally planned and no formal discussions have been had, but noted that the duration of the union battles are completely unpredictable.
Spokespeople for Warner Bros. and Legendary Entertainment declined to comment on the matter.
Additionally, Warner Bros. is assessing potential new dates for the anticipated movie musical “The Color Purple,” which counts Oprah Winfrey as a producer, as well as the DC Studios sequel “Aquaman and The Lost Kingdom,” sources said. The possible date shuffling comes as the result of striking unions SAG-AFTRA and the Writers Guild of America, at war with show business producers for new contracts.
A movie like “Dune 2” would benefit greatly from the participation of its all-star cast — which also includes Austin Butler, Florence Pugh, Javier Bardem and Josh Brolin — and current union restrictions say those actors cannot promote past or future work made and released by struck companies.
That Warners could be looking ahead indicates that the studio is not confident either guild strike will be resolved by the mid-fall. “The Color Purple” and the “Aquaman” sequel are presently dated for Dec. 20 and Dec. 25, respectively. A title like “Color Purple,” one industry player noted, would hinge on a robust awards campaign. Campaigns for the Academy Awards and the Golden Globes could be hampered by a prolonged strike.
Warner Bros. is surely not the only studio in town sizing up the release calendar. Major films in the same corridor as the “Dune” sequel include Disney’s “The Marvels” on Nov. 10 and Lionsgate’s franchise reboot “The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes” on Nov. 17. Sony’s Columbia Pictures label is also set to take the Apple Studios film “Napoleon” to theaters on Nov. 22, directed by Ridley Scott and starring Joaquin Phoenix.
It sounds like they’re expecting this strike to last a LONG time.