The strike by the Hollywood Screenwriters and Actors Guild (SAG-AFTRA) could have a major impact on the global film industry, but Hungarian studios producing foreign productions are “weathering the storm of Hollywood strikes,” according to Variety.com.
Variety reported in its article on the 80th Venice International Film Festival that began last week, that the strike had prevented several stars from traveling to the prestigious must-see event. However, in the case of independent films, SAG-AFTRA could exempt its members from the ban on promoting productions, including the Budapest-based Victorian drama Poor Things by Yorgos Lanthimos, debuting on Friday.
The 2023 Writers Guild of America strike is an ongoing strike action that began on May 2, 2023. At that time, the Writers Guild of America (WGA)—representing 11,500 screenwriters—went on strike over an ongoing labor dispute with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). Since July 14, 2023, it has coincided with the American actors’ union’s (SAG-AFTRA) strike as part of a series of broader Hollywood labor disputes.
According to industry experts,
the ongoing Hollywood strikes are not yet having a serious impact on the booming Budapest production hub.
“We’re affected, but we can keep working,” said Adam Goodman, founding co-owner of Mid Atlantic Films, whose production company is currently working on Lionsgate’s The Killer’s Game. The action-comedy, starring Dave Bautista and Ben Kingsley, is one of a series of independent productions – including US broadcaster A24’s Death of a Unicorn and Dusty Bunny with Mads Mikkelsen and Sigourney Weaver – which have been granted exemptions from SAG-AFTRA.
A spectacular part of the Korda Film Park in Etyek (near Budapest). Photo via Facebook/GP Exclusive
Work on British TV series such as The Day of the Jackal starring Eddie Redmayne, will also continue in Budapest, as their casts are mainly members of the British Equity actors’ union.
Ildikó Kemény, Managing Director of Pioneer Stillking Films, said that
in the case of TV series that include members of the US actors’ union (SAG), scenes with them are being postponed until the strike is over.
According to Mihály Tóth, head of Origo Studio, producing the TV series Dune: The Sisterhood, each production that is pulled out of Budapest because of the strike is being replaced by another. “The whole industry is changing, everyone is looking for solutions.”
More than 300 productions were made in Hungary last year, a record $690 million ($247 billion) for the country,
Variety wrote, adding that this is a 20 percent increase from 2021, and that industry professionals expect significant growth again following the strike, as well as after the COVID outbreak.
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News portal Indexreported that Andás Réz, film professional, noted that the main reason for the Hollywood shutdown, now lasting for more than 100 days, is that screenwriters have been left out of the royalties for their films that have been moved to streaming platforms. Furthermore, the rise of artificial intelligence is also a danger, becoming a threat actors.
The US actors’ strike affects around 160,000 people overseas. Réz is most concerned about the Hungarian film industry, as it has been performing better in recent years, and the professionals working on international productions have also became more outstanding. The best example of this is that the visual design of the film Dune, which was also the work of a Hungarian team, won an Oscar.