The ancient Rome film set for Ridley Scott's film "Gladiator 2" lies idle during the Hollywood actors' strike, at Fort Ricasoli in Kalkara at the entrance to Valletta's Grand Harbour, Malta October 21, 2023.
LOS ANGELES--Hours before the Hollywood actors’ strike officially ended, Beth Goodnight’s phone began ringing with opportunity. The head of a Hollywood construction company and prop shop that bears her name dispatched two project managers to begin bidding for work.
By the end of Wednesday, they had crunched numbers on seven projects, including a Super Bowl commercial, a television show, a large event and smaller pieces that add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars. “My phone would not stop ringing and buzzing last night,” said Goodnight, who estimated she may have spoken to as many as 100 people, including her laid-off workers. “I did not imagine the wave of tears that came, because ... like Sisyphus being able to put down a 200-pound rock, I wasn’t even aware of how much pressure I was under.” The SAG-AFTRA actors’ union reached a tentative deal with the major studios and streamers Wednesday, opening the flood gates to Hollywood production and returning the entertainment industry to work after dual writers' and actors' strikes stopped most filming. Writers reached a deal in late September after going on strike in May. Major film projects, such as Ridley Scott’s historical epic “Gladiator 2,” are expected to return to production by the end of the year or early next year, according to one source familiar with the project. For the Scott film, schedules are being matched, flights to Malta and accommodations are being booked, and other preparations are under way. Marvel Studios' “Deadpool 3,” a high-priority project for Walt Disney, will most likely resume filming before Thanksgiving, after the actors’ strike shut down production in July. Disney announced on Thursday that the new "Deadpool" movie would debut in late July, rather than early May as originally planned. Martial arts film “Mortal Kombat 2” will resume shooting on the Gold Coast of Australia. “We don’t have a lot of locations, so we ended up just holding all the sets,” said producer Todd Garner. “We're basically ready to go, we just have to turn the lights back on and get everybody back.” One major hurdle to resuming production will be coordinating the schedule of A-list actors. “It's going to be bedlam,” said a talent agent, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter. Some actors will want to spend their next few months promoting their films in the Oscar race rather than going to a set to shoot, holding up a production that other actors would prefer to get under way. The scheduling conflicts could force some projects to be dropped altogether. “A lot of plans, I think, are going to fall by the wayside,” the agent said. Saving TV Season In the meantime, production executives throughout the industry are contacting lighting houses, prop shops and costumers, many of whom were forced to lay off workers, to make preparations for returning to the set. It will take time, however, for many projects to restart. Producers will have to book facilities and hire staff before they begin building sets and renting props. “It's not going to be business as usual for a few months, and probably not until after the first of the year,” said Pam Elyea, owner of prop supplier History for Hire. Her company has provided props for movies from the 1997 hit “Titanic” to this year’s “Oppenheimer”. One feature film the company had been working on just got delayed until 2024, she said. Broadcast TV networks are trying to salvage part of their season. After filling the fall schedule with reality shows and repeats, executives hope to air some episodes of hits such as “Abbott Elementary,” “NCIS” and “Law & Order” next year. ABC Studios aims to begin production this month on new seasons of long-running medical drama “Grey’s Anatomy” and the police show “The Rookie,” according to a source familiar with the productions. Fresh episodes could debut early next year. “Tracker,” a new drama that 20th Television is producing for CBS, also is expected to start filming this month. For NBC, the "Law & Order," "FBI" and "Chicago" shows, from producer Dick Wolf's Wolf Entertainment, are expected to start filming new seasons in the coming weeks, a source close to the productions said. Actors were preparing to hit red carpets, talk shows and social media to tout their projects. Most had been forbidden from promoting films and TV shows during the strike. Studios are eager to have actors promoting Oscar hopefuls such as Leonardo DiCaprio’s “Killers of the Flower Moon” and Bradley Cooper’s “Maestro”. “YES!!! Hallelujah. I can tweet a certain trailer that I am VERY EXCITED ABOUT,” actor Kumail Nanjiani wrote on social media platform X. Nanjiani then posted a trailer for “Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire,” which had been scheduled for release in December but was pushed back by distributor Sony Pictures to March 2024 because of the strikes.