Final Nail in the Coffin for Hollywood? 60+ Projects, Some with Major Stars, Exempt from Strike


Coming off of “Barbenheimer” weekend, where it felt like practically all the world was seeing one or both of two very different films, one might be tempted to think all was hunky-dory in Hollywood.

Well, don’t believe the hype. Beyond the question of whether a highly meta piece of neon-pink rah-rah feminism or an R-rated exploration of the men behind the atomic bomb will continue to draw in viewers beyond a media-frenzied pseudo-event structured around “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” being released on the very same day, the record-breaking weekend still comes after a particularly bad summer for the big studios — and it’s only going to get worse.

That’s not speaking in terms of the films that come out next month, mind you, or the rest of the summer. It’s what comes out next summer — particularly as Hollywood deals with the first simultaneous writers’ and actors’ strikes in recent memory.

But Hollywood’s loss is independent studios’ gain. As Entertainment Weekly reported last week, while the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists and Writers’ Guild of America strikes have halted numerous productions, dozens more “truly independent” movies and TV series have been given the go-ahead to resume recording.

Those productions are part of an “Interim Agreement” under which members of SAG-AFTRA can work on projects if the producers submit an application and are vetted for a waiver. That’s because independent studios with no ties to streaming platforms have few if any ties with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, the collective bargaining group that represents the big studios.


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“Among the exempt productions are David Lowery’s music drama ‘Mother Mary, starring [Anne] Hathaway, Hunter Schafer, and Michaela Coel; Andrew Patterson’s ‘The Rivals of Amziah King’, starring [Matthew] McConaughey; and Simon West’s action-comedy ‘Bride Hard’, starring [Rebel] Wilson,” EW reported.

“Other titles include the comedy ‘Death of a Unicorn’, with Paul Rudd and Jenna Ortega; Mel Gibson’s upcoming thriller ‘Flight Risk’, starring Mark Wahlberg; Bryan Fuller’s action-drama ‘Dust Bunny’, with Mads Mikkelsen and Sigourney Weaver; the action-comedy ‘The Killer’s Game’, with Sofia Boutella, Scott Adkins, Dave Bautista, Ben Kingsley, and Ice Cube; Ishana Shyamalan’s debut fantasy-horror movie, ‘The Watchers’, starring Dakota Fanning; music biopic ‘The Yellow Tie’ with John Malkovich and Sean Bean; and the wrestling drama ‘Queen of the Ring’, with Emily Bett Rickards, Walton Goggins, Josh Lucas, and Deborah Ann Woll.”

So, fear not, Rebel Wilson fans: “Bride Hard” will be arriving in theaters on time — along with over 60 other titles that have, as of Tuesday morning, been granted exemptions. (Full current list here.)

The Hollywood work stoppage began on May 2 after the WGA announced that it couldn’t reach an agreement with the AMPTP over a range of issues, among them: residuals for streaming films and series and the potential use of artificial intelligence to write future works in the place of human scribes.

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SAG-AFTRA, the main actors’ union, began striking alongside the writers guild earlier this month.

That’s bad enough for Hollywood, particularly after several high-profile flops earlier in the summer from films like “The Flash” and “Elemental“, as well as predicted flops for big-budget films still to be released like “Blue Beetle.”

According to Deadline, this could be quite the work stoppage, as well: “Regardless of whether SAG-AFTRA goes on strike this week, the studios have no intention of sitting down with the Writers Guild for several more months,” the Hollywood outlet reported July 11, before the actors strike.

(The headline on that piece should give an idea of how serious this fight is: “Hollywood Studios’ WGA Strike Endgame Is To Let Writers Go Broke Before Resuming Talks In Fall.”)

That’s enough to give the little guys a chance to go for the Tinseltown jugular. But, perhaps the final nail in the Hollywood coffin will be productions independent productions that don’t need the mega-studio infrastructure to score major successes. And the current strike is providing those productions with a major window of opportunity.


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One such independent is the first one to get a SAG-AFTRA waiver: faith-based series “The Chosen”, which chronicles the life of Jesus Christ.

The official Twitter account of the “groundbreaking historical drama” (their words, not mine) announced on July 13 that production in Utah had been suspended.

A few days later, the show issued an update that it had been approved for the waiver — little surprise since the series is independently bankrolled through crowdsourced funding:

And while the show debuted online, the CW network has been airing the show over broadcast TV, where TV Line reported on July 17 that the “90-minute broadcast-TV premiere averaged 520,000 viewers — a far mightier audience than, say, [CW shows] ‘Riverdale’, ‘Nancy Drew’ and ‘The Rising’ have been averaging this summer — and a 0.1 rating.”

Another “independent” production that’s 1) still chugging along at the box office and 2) irks the sensibilities of NPR listeners is “Sound of Freedom” starring Jim Caviezel; the child sex-trafficking saga, which has been described in the media as being a “QAnon dog whistle” took in another $18.8 million during “Barbenheimer” weekend, according to Variety.

That’s $124 million to date — a genuine blockbuster, particularly given (or due to) the stigma attached to it by the liberal media. While it’s unclear whether there’s another one of those ready for the summer of 2024, it’s the kind of thing that gets conservatives out to theaters, which is rare.

Given a “Bride Hard” vs. “Sound of Freedom 2” showdown, the latter well might prevail.

And, the longer the SAG-AFTRA strike lasts, the greater the possibility that matchup ends up being next summer’s “Barbenheimer.”

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he’s written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.

C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he’s written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).


Morristown, New Jersey


Catholic University of America

Languages Spoken

English, Spanish

Topics of Expertise

American Politics, World Politics, Culture