Zendaya’s ‘Challengers’ Skips Venice Film Festival Launch Due to SAG-AFTRA Strike, Moves to 2024

4 mins read

Luca Guadagnino’s “Challengers,” starring Zendaya, which had been set as the Venice Film Festival opener, has been pulled from the festival due to promotional complications prompted by the SAG-AFTRA strike.

Venice has announced that the sexy sports comedy — in which Zendaya plays a former tennis prodigy turned coach entangled in a love triangle with two pro tennis players, played by Josh O’Connor and Mike Faist — has changed its distribution strategy. The film’s promotion has been disrupted by the current actors strike, which prohibits SAG-AFTRA union members from doing any type of promotional activity.

This means Zendaya, O’Connor and Faist would not have been able to launch the film on Aug. 30 on the Venice red carpet.

After a week of discussions, Venice organizers confirmed in a statement on Friday that the film “will not participate at the festival following a decision made by the production.”

Variety understands that “Challengers” will now get an early summer 2024 release date that will give the movie a wide berth from strike action, and also help the film better reach its target audience.

A Sept. 15 U.S. theatrical release date for “Challengers” was previously set for the hotly anticipated film, which marks Guadagnino’s first full-fledged U.S. studio movie. Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures/Amazon Studios is releasing the film domestically, while Warner Bros. Pictures is handling the international roll-out.

“Challengers” is written by American playwright Justin Kuritzkes and produced by Amy Pascal, Guadagnino, Zendaya and Rachel O’Connor. Executive producers are Bernard Bellew, Lorenzo Mieli and Kevin Ulrich. The music is by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.

In “Challengers’” place, Venice has selected an Italian film as its new opening night movie. Edoardo De Angelis’ “Comandante,” starring Pierfrancesco Favino, will now make its world premiere in competition and kick off the festival on Aug. 30.

Distributed by 01 Distribution, the new film from the “Indivisible” director is a World War II epic that follows an Italian Royal Navy submarine captain.

A synopsis reads: “One dark night in October 1940, while navigating in the Atlantic, [captain Salvatore Todaro] comes upon an armed merchant ship sailing with lights out. He shoots his cannons at the ship and sinks it. At that moment, the Commander makes a decision that was destined to go down in history: he saves the 26 shipwrecked Belgians who otherwise would have drowned in the middle of the ocean and disembarks them at the nearest safe harbor, as prescribed by the law of the sea. To make room for them on board his submarine, he is forced to navigate on the surface of the water for three days, visible to the enemy forces and endangering his life and that of his men.”

Venice director Alberto Barbera said that De Angelis’ movie “reverberates with unambiguously contemporary echoes.”

Continued Barbera: “The true story of Commander Salvatore Todaro, who saved the lives of enemy sailors who had survived the sinking of their merchant ship – endangering the safety of his own submarine and his men – is a powerful call for the need to place the values of ethics and human solidarity before the brutal logic of military protocol.”

De Angelis described “Comandante” as a movie that “talks about strength.”

“Salvatore Todaro personifies its sublime form: to fight the enemy without ever forgetting they are human beings,” said the director.

The 80th edition of the Venice Film Festival will run Aug. 30-Sept. 9.

Matt Donnelly contributed to this story.

Zendaya’s ‘Challengers’ Skips Venice Film Festival Launch Due to SAG-AFTRA Strike, Moves to 2024

Previous Story

‘Oppenheimer’: Cillian Murphy Says Nolan’s Script “Best I’ve Ever Read” & Says Film Was Shot In An “Unbelievable” 57 Days

Next Story

Sam Shepard Monologues

Latest from Blog

0 $0.00