Disney faced an unconventional scenario at the premiere of its highly anticipated film, ‘Haunted Mansion,’ as the event became the first major Hollywood gathering impacted by the ongoing actors’ strike led by SAG-AFTRA.
The premiere, held at Disneyland on Saturday night, witnessed the absence of stars such as Tiffany Haddish, LaKeith Stanfield, and Jamie Lee Curtis. As per strike guidelines, actors are prohibited from participating in promotional activities, including premieres. Despite the absence of its cast, Disney proceeded with the event, utilizing the presence of theme park characters to maintain the celebratory atmosphere.
Initially, the red carpet was planned to feature prominent cast members, producers, director Justin Simien, and composer Kris Bowers. However, due to the actors’ strike, they were unable to attend. To fill the void, Disney relied on its beloved theme park characters, including Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Maleficent, Snow White’s Evil Queen, and Cruella de Vil, who interacted with fans and posed for photos. Influencers and select guests were granted private access to the Haunted Mansion attraction, adding an element of exclusivity to the event.
Director Justin Simien, understanding the significance of the film’s premiere, felt compelled to attend on behalf of the absent cast. While expressing ambivalence about the situation, Simien conveyed his pride in the film’s ensemble and his commitment to honoring their work. Justin Simien acknowledged the actors’ absence and voiced his support for their decision to stand in solidarity with the strike. Simien emphasized the importance of the ongoing negotiations surrounding AI issues within SAG-AFTRA, underscoring the need to protect actors’ digital likenesses.
Following the red carpet event, the premiere proceeded with a screening at California Adventure’s Hyperion Theater. Simien took the stage to reflect on his previous experience working at Disneyland, expressing gratitude towards his collaborators and Disney executives. Despite the circumstances, the film’s team showcased unity and appreciation for the collaborative effort behind ‘Haunted Mansion.’
SAG-AFTRA initiated the work stoppage after negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers reached an impasse. While the studios and streamers presented an offer that included historic pay and residual increases, higher caps on pension and health contributions, and audition protections, SAG-AFTRA deemed the proposal insulting and disrespectful. The union criticized the perceived hypocrisy of the studios, questioning their financial stance while rewarding CEOs with substantial payouts.
Disney’s ‘Haunted Mansion‘ premiere marked a significant moment in the industry, becoming the first major event to proceed amidst the actors’ strike. Despite the absence of the film’s stars, the event upheld its celebratory spirit with the presence of beloved Disney characters and exclusive access to the iconic Haunted Mansion attraction. Director Justin Simien stood in solidarity with the striking actors, emphasizing the importance of protecting their rights in the evolving landscape of AI technology. While the strike continues, the premiere served as a reminder of the collective efforts behind ‘Haunted Mansion’ and the ongoing negotiations shaping the industry’s future.