“The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes,” the new “Hunger Games” prequel film, has acquired an interim agreement from SAG-AFTRA, which will enable its stars to promote the film ahead of its release on November 17.
Hundreds of movies have qualified for the interim agreement from SAG-AFTRA and have agreed to the Guild’s original demands while the strike is still ongoing, including some with major stars and other buzzy awards-hopefuls premiering at film festivals. But with a budget of around $100 million, the “Hunger Games” prequel film is almost certainly one of the biggest films to sign the agreement to date.
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“Songbirds and Snakes” is a release from Lionsgate, which is not an AMPTP-affiliated company, despite being a mini-major studio, thus making its theatrical releases eligible. Lionsgate is an independent company; however, this is expected to be the first Lionsgate title to apply for and receive an interim agreement to date.
Lionsgate did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
“Songbirds and Snakes” stars Rachel Zegler, Tom Blyth, Josh Andrés Rivera, Hunter Schafer, Peter Dinklage, Jason Schwartzman, and Viola Davis. Some of the cast is expected to appear at the film’s world premieres in both London and Berlin early in November. The film is directed by Francis Lawrence.
Earlier this year, actress Davis produced and starred in film “G20” that was an independent project meant to be released by Amazon. The film managed to score an interim agreement to continue production, but Davis out of respect for the strike withdrew from the project given the optics of its release by an AMPTP-affiliated company.
“Songbirds and Snakes” is currently tracking to a $50 million opening weekend, and if the film is able to secure more publicity on behalf of its stars, it should give the film a much needed boost at the 11th hour. Other starry fall studio releases like “A Haunting in Venice” and “Dumb Money” have struggled at the box office without the aid of having stars available to promote them, and some like “The Challengers” have already delayed into next year as the strike has remained ongoing.
There is optimism in the industry, however, that a resolution could be in sight. The Guild and AMPTP met over the October 28 weekend in an attempt to hash out a deal, with each side giving various counter-proposals. The Guild recently disclosed to members that it made progress on AI contract agreements, one of the key sticking points in reaching a deal. Also at issue is a success-based residual, something the studios agreed to with the WGA, but which SAG-AFTRA has been pushing for a revenue-sharing model.
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