Hollywood strike is an opportunity for Italian cinema

Pierfrancesco Favino at the Venice Film Festival on August 30, 2023. (Andreas Renz/Getty Images)

Few American films will come out in the coming months, and Italian ones – especially ambitious ones – will be able to take advantage of them.

Few major American films will be released this fall due to a strike by Hollywood writers and actors. At the same time, coincidentally, some high-budget, box-office Italian films will be released, which could thus be an important earning opportunity for Italian cinema. And at the Venice Film Festival, the film industry’s first major international event since the start of the strikes, as many as six Italian films enter the competition, a record for the past 25 years, that is, since the festival came into its own. modern stage.

About 120 days are on strike for screenwriters registered with the main American union (WGA), and for about 50 days for actors and actresses registered with the relevant union (SAG-AFTRA). Renewals of relevant collective bargaining agreements have stalled as unions and the association representing major production studios (AMPTP) cannot agree on important issues such as the calculation of royalties or the use of artificial intelligence in production. The reduction in the number of films and series distributed is one of the consequences of this unrest, which will be felt for a long time to come, at least until the end of 2024. Insiders suggest that Italian films could benefit, that the post-pandemic period has still struggled to make money and, driven by the need to attract new audiences, things have changed. The strike could leave more room for both promotion and screening of major non-US films.

Some of the consequences of these two blows will be measured in the long term. For example, writers’ abstention from work blocked writing new films and series that would not be ready until 2025, as well as work on a set of films and series that could instead be released in 2024 (this was the case with the film about the Formula -1 with Brad Pitt). Other consequences, on the other hand, will be felt soon, because the blockade of actors has finally stopped all filming, even films and series written by foreign or non-union screenwriters (at least a minority), as well as all promotion of upcoming films, effective immediately from 13 July. Thus, although films whose release was already inevitable have been released and which therefore have already done most of the promotion (such as Barbie AND Oppenheimer for example), those who are scheduled for this fall are in a difficult situation. The strikes don’t seem to be drawing to a close, and leading analysts are suggesting that October could be the time after which both sides don’t want to prolong the standoff.

Unable to attract stars to promote, the studios have already pushed back the release dates of some major films to when they think things will be back to normal. It happened for ApplicantsLuca Guadagnino’s film with Zendaya, which will be released in the spring of 2024, and this was the case Dunes 2a sci-fi film starring Timothée Chalamet that will be released in 2024 (hence another great film from the same studio, Godzilla x Kong: New Empire, postponed to 2024). Movie Marvel/Sony Cravenbelonging to the narrative universe of Spider-Man, was supposed to be released in the fall, and instead will be released in August 2024. In addition, important films are scheduled for the spring of 2024, such as the animated The Lord of the Rings: War of the Rohirrim (which expands the part Lord of the Rings), it was because of these first moves that they were delayed for several months, when there will be more space in the cinema, in this particular case for Christmas 2024. These are among the first to be announced, but the more the strike continues, the more we expect other exits to be delayed as well.

So this fall there will be a little more space for Italian films that have been struggling to compete with the Americans for several years now. Historically, the most successful Italian films have outperformed major films released at the same time, even if they were comedies or dramas rather than science fiction or action films. However, in recent times, traditional Italian cinema has lost its grip on younger audiences, at least in cinemas, and older audiences, who are deteriorating physiologically every year, have also been the ones who are less willing to return to cinemas after the pandemic.

Now there have been a number of changes in funding and budgets, as well as the perceived need to make Italian films more international in order to bring back abroad what is not cashed in Italy (following the example of very popular Italian series in the world, such as Gomorrah), stimulated the production of military, science fiction, historical and crime films with high technical standards. In some cases, this was also due to the experience gained by Italian film crews and employees working on many Hollywood films recently shot entirely or partially in Italy.

Thus, the more vigorous advertising campaign for this type of Italian films, which has already been organized, must coincide with the shortage of American films. Even the Venice Film Festival, a promotional and artistic event that has become very important, includes six Italian films in the most important section, that is, in competition. This is a number never reached in the festival’s modern era. For a long time, three Italian films were the limit of the competition, recently it has reached four or even five (including films co-produced with other countries, as was the case last year) Bones and all Luca Guadagnino with Timothée Chalamet).

Six films of this year, among which again an important co-production with the United States (Finally dawn Saverio Costanzo), give a different vision of Italian cinema than usual and are clearly more interested in meeting a larger audience. And it’s also richer films than we’re used to. The budgets of these six films exceed 7 million euros, a figure that was considered very high in 2015 alone. At least the pair are worth between 10 and 15 million, and one, a film by Saverio Costanzo, produced in collaboration with the United States, reaches 28 million euros. In general, they represent different directions that currently stimulate Italian production.

Two of them correspond to the more traditional notion of an Italian film competing in Venice, albeit more impressive than usual in its production, and me captain Matteo Garrone, a film about two migrant boys from Senegal to Italy, radical in choice (all filmed in the protagonists’ Wolof language and based on their adventurous journey from beginning to end), and Ljubo Giorgio Wrights, the story of a Yenish nomad whose children were taken to Europe in the first half of the 20th century.

Instead, we place a bet, that is Aeneasthe second film by Pietro Castellitto (son of Sergio Castellitto), a comedy with humor very different from the classic Italian humor already seen in his debut. Predators, with very high budgets and ambitions for its genre. Finally, Dawn has two mid-range American stars, Lily James (seen in Cinderella and series Pam and Tommy) and Joe Keery (known in the series very strange things). And finally, the other two belong to very commercial genres, such as Stefano Sollima’s detective story. Slowly and a war film about a submarine Commander Edoardo De Angelisa, both with Pierfrancesco Favino, the only Italian actor who, at this historical stage, has shown that he is able to attract the audience to the hall.

All six films are expected to release between September and January. Commander AND Slowlywhich are commercially stronger on paper, will become the most important Italian releases of the month (the first one is in November, the second one is around Christmas), me captain it will be released immediately, taking advantage of the attention of the presentation in Venice, and the rest will look for a favorable position for their audience. Only one, Ljubowill be released in November on the same day as one of the few major American films currently still scheduled for release in late 2023, i.e. Napoleon Ridley Scott with Joaquin Phoenix.

In addition to these, another Italian release with serious box office ambitions will be the new Youtuber film Me Against You, which will be released in the same month as a major American film for a more adult audience, such as Flower Moon Assassins Martin Scorsese with Leonardo DiCaprio; My God Ficarra and Picone (for Christmas) and a new film by Alessandro Siani, This happens even in the best families.which will be shown in theaters on New Year’s Eve, avoiding clash with American family films currently scheduled for the end of December, ie. Wish (Disney cartoon) e Wonka with Timothée Chalamet (prequel to the famous Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory 1971, adaptation Chocolate Factory Roald Dahl).

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