These projects, including a Mel Gibson movie, can keep filming amid SAG-AFTRA strike

Striking actors and writers with signs walk a picket line below a large ad for Warner Bros' "Barbie" movie.
Movies that have been given exemptions to keep filming during the SAG-AFTRA strike include two A24 films and a Mel Gibson action flick.
(Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)

Even as actors and writers have brought Hollywood to a standstill with a historic double strike, movies starring some of the industry’s biggest names — Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Paul Rudd and Jenna Ortega among them — are allowed to continue filming.

SAG-AFTRA, the union representing actors and other performers, has been granting waivers, or exemptions, to a select group of independent films and television shows that are not affiliated with the major studios and streaming giants that are members of the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, according to a list the union released this week.

The waivers give SAG-AFTRA members the ability to work on these productions without violating the strike or crossing picket lines, the union said in its strike rules. The exempted projects must follow guidelines that the guild has proposed in bargaining with the studios. The deal is good until the union and AMPTP — which includes Netflix, Warner Bros. Discovery, NBC/Universal, Paramount and Amazon — agree on and ratify a new contract.


SAG-AFTRA actors are on strike, joining WGA writers. The work stoppage limits what actors are allowed to do. Here’s what you need to know.

July 14, 2023

While the list is expected to grow as the union continues processing waiver applications, there are nearly 50 projects that have already received the green light. Among the first to receive an exemption was “The Rivals of Amziah King,” a crime thriller starring McConaughey.

A24, the studio behind Oscar best picture “Everything Everywhere All at Once,” received waivers for two of its movies: “Death of a Unicorn,” a dark comedy starring Rudd and Ortega, and a drama, “Mother Mary,” starring Hathaway, Michaela Coel (“I Will Destroy You”) and Hunter Schafer (“Euphoria”).

Other titles include action-comedy “Bride Hard,” starring Rebel Wilson, and “Dust Bunny,” a horror movie starring Mads Mikkelsen and Sigourney Weaver. Gibson’s thriller “Flight Risk,” which stars Mark Wahlberg, was granted a waiver despite its distribution deal with Lionsgate. The studio also has distribution rights to historical drama series “The Chosen,” which follows the life of Jesus. That show, which streams on Netflix and Peacock, was also given a waiver.

Emergency funds are available for actors on strike who are experiencing significant financial hardship.

July 18, 2023

Since the SAG-AFTRA strike began last Friday major studio films such as Disney’s “Deadpool 3,” Warner Bros.’ ”Gladiator 2” and the second installment of “Mission: Impossible — Dead Reckoninghave halted production. Actors in the summer’s most anticipated films — think “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” — haven’t been allowed to promote the projects (meaning a near-empty Hall H in Comic-Con). And the stoppage has meant thousands of actors and crew members are without work.

The interim agreements between SAG-AFTRA and the independent projects, however, are meant to keep the wheels turning for companies “on the outskirts of the primary negotiating” between the union and AMPTP, said Helen Rella, an employment and labor attorney at New York-based firm Wilk Auslander.

“That’s beneficial to these independent companies seeking to continue work, and it allows the people who depend on working these projects in order to get paid.”

The actors’ union published its proposals, with what it says were the counterproposals from Hollywood studios. The AMPTP accused SAG-AFTRA of mischaracterizing the talks.

July 18, 2023

“This is a very difficult situation for everybody, primarily for working-class actors and the production crews who depend on these projects to be able to earn a paycheck to feed their families,” Rella added. “This is not just a situation of high-profile celebrities who are fronting the cause.”


On Tuesday, SAG-AFTRA released its contract proposals, along with what the union said were the studios’ responses. The guild accused the studios of “repeated stonewalling and delays,” adding that “they intentionally dragged their feet.” AMPTP said the union is distorting its responses.

The guild’s requests reflect the industry-wide challenges brought on by the streaming boom of the last decade. Among its proposals are higher wages for its members, more residuals and shares of revenue generated by streaming hits and protection with regard to the use of artificial intelligence.

After about five weeks of bargaining, both sides failed to reach an agreement as the union’s contract expired last week. Members have prepared for a lengthy walkout. The actors and other performers joined writers on the picket lines for the first time since 1960. The last actors’ strike, in 1980, lasted 77 days, while the one in 1960 went for 43 days. The previous writers’ strike, in 2007-08, lasted more 100 days.

SAG-AFTRA has approved a deal from the studios to end its historic strike. The actors were on strike for more than 100 days.

Nov. 10, 2023