What does 'back to normal' mean for Hollywood now?

The longest strike in SAG-AFTRA history is over. What's next?

Juan Rodriguez and Jack Black on a SAG-AFTRA picket line
The Hollywood actors strike officially ended on Nov. 9
(Image credit: ROBYN BECK / AFP via Getty Images)

Hollywood is getting back to work. But when will the industry return to normal?

After 118 days, the longest strike in SAG-AFTRA history is over after the actors union reached an agreement with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers for a new contract. The strike was immediately suspended effective Nov. 9, though the contract still must be ratified by members. 

And while Hollywood's dual labor strikes have now wrapped, the ripple effects will stretch into 2025. 

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The return of the press tour

One immediate impact of the end of the SAG-AFTRA strike is that actors can resume promoting their work. Since July, union members have been forbidden from mentioning their projects, new or old, on social media or elsewhere. So expect to see stars' social media presence ramp up, with actors like Ariana DeBose pushing films like Disney's "Wish." Though "Saturday Night Live" already resumed production, its hosts can now mention their movies, meaning Timothée Chalamet can plug "Wonka" on the Nov. 11 show. 

This is significant for Hollywood because analysts have speculated certain movies that disappointed at the box office in recent months might have been hurt by their stars being unable to promote them. So the end of the strike is great news for the rest of the year's tentpole films like "Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom," which can now have a regular press tour. Disney wasted no time getting “The Marvels” star Brie Larson on “The Tonight Show” on Friday to do some last-minute promo. Might this allow these big movies to be bigger hits than they would have otherwise been? 

Awards season, too, will now ramp up significantly. Oscar campaigns would ordinarily be in full swing this time of year, but the SAG-AFTRA strike threw a wrench in that. Now, awards publicists may scramble to make up for lost time with a blitz of interviews and screenings. The strike's end is particularly good news for "Poor Things" and "The Color Purple," two possible Best Picture contenders that can now be promoted by two of the films' respective stars, Emma Stone and Taraji P. Henson, ahead of the films' December debuts. 

Can 2024 be salvaged?

But when can viewers expect the return of their favorite shows? Writing on many of them already resumed after the Writers Guild of America strike ended in September, meaning certain series, like "Stranger Things" and "Abbott Elementary," have been back on track for more than a month. David Harbour told Variety production on the new season of "Stranger Things" will begin in “a couple of days.” "The Last of Us" can also likely make a planned spring 2024 production start, and shows like "Hacks" that were shooting when the strike began can pick back up. 

As far as the 2023-24 TV season goes, Deadline reports broadcast shows are looking to resume filming as soon as the end of November. This should allow such shows to produce a shorter, 10-to-13 episode season that could start airing around mid-February or early March. "Abbott Elementary" creator Quinta Brunson indicated the ABC sitcom will begin filming soon. 

A big question, though, is whether movies that shut down filming due to the actors strike can resume in time to make 2024 release dates. Some should be safe, such as "Beetlejuice 2," which had less than two days of shooting to go. The first half of a two-part "Wicked" movie also shut down with "a few days" of filming remaining, so its November 2024 release date "shouldn't be affected," director Jon M. Chu said

But the same day the strike was suspended, Disney delayed “Deadpool 3" to July. The Marvel film was meant to kick off the summer in May but was reportedly only 50% complete prior to the actors strike. Further delays could be disastrous for theaters, which already struggled with a shortage of films to show in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic. Hours before the SAG-AFTRA deal was announced, Disney CEO Bob Iger told CNBC that "we don’t have much time” to “preserve a summer of films.” 

It’s already too late for some movies, as “Mission: Impossible 8” and “Snow White” were previously postponed from 2024 to 2025, while “Spider-Man: Beyond the Spider-Verse” was delayed indefinitely. The mad dash to get cameras rolling and prevent 2024 from being a movie wasteland begins now. 

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