Updated 12pm Friday with Film Commissioner comments

Filming for the sequel to Gladiator has been put on hold following the announcement of industrial action, according to sources close to the production. 

Hollywood's actors' union on Thursday evening announced a strike against movie and television studios after talks over pay and other working conditions collapsed.

The Screen Actors Guild (SAG-AFTRA) said its members would walk out at 9am on Friday (Malta time). 

Preparations for the shutdown were underway in the past few days with those involved “planning for the long haul,” sources said, adding that the financial implications of the shutdown were “huge.”

Sources said some Maltese extras have been told not to report for duties on Friday because of the strike.

Details of the preparations were not available, but it is understood these have been focused on logistics, such as accommodation arrangements for those forced to stay in Malta for the duration of the halt in filming.

Job fears for extras and crew

According to film producer Martin Bonnici, the production employs hundreds of crew and extras, who are at risk of losing their jobs if filming is paused for too long.

“At the moment, I just hope that the servicing company involved in the production would be able to keep them on board in some capacity or at the very least offer some form of compensation to workers who lost their job early,” he said, though stressed he is not involved with the film’s production or the servicing company managing it.

Film Commissioner Johann Grech said his office was in “full solidarity with all those affected.” 

“We are following developments and we remain especially supportive to our local crew affected by this strike,” he said.

The strike action by the industry’s biggest union, the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), was called after a midnight deadline on Wednesday passed without an agreement being reached with major studios including Netflix and Disney.

The deadline followed last-ditch talks to come to an agreement on pay and working conditions and the use of generative AI (artificial intelligence) in film productions, amongst other issues.

The strike will affect all members of the actors’ union, which, in the case of Gladiator sequel, includes Denzel Washington and Chilean-American actor Pedro Pascal.

In June, the union representing 160,000 actors and performers agreed to extend contract negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) until July 12, with talks having stalled since then. 

Filming for the Ridley Scott epic began in Malta in June and was originally set to last four months.

It is being shot at Fort Ricasoli, the large fortification in Kalkara which also served as the main setting for the original film.

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