MONTREAL — A special no-strike waiver offered by a Canuck actors union to keep 20th Century Fox/New Regency’s $60 million pic “Daredevil” in Montreal looks set to drive a wedge between local and U.S. producers.
The pic is at the center of a Canadian labor battle after producer Bernie Williams threatened to pull it Friday because of fears of an actors strike.
Negotiations on the new Independent Production Agreement, which expires Dec. 31, will begin Oct. 15. If no deal is struck, actors could walk out Jan. 16 — when “Daredevil” is skedded to shoot.
Elizabeth McDonald, president of the Canadian Film and Television Production Assn., warned Monday that her group opposes individual deals between the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA) and Hollywood producers.
“This is just an effort to undermine our side of collective bargaining,” said McDonald. “That means, ‘Oh, we can take these people and negotiate with them, and we’ll leave the Canadian producers here, and who cares.’ It’s not collective bargaining.”
Under the current collective agreement, no side deals are allowed. But since U.S. studios are not signatories on the Canuck deal, they are simply observers at the negotiations, they can make individual pacts while Canadian producers cannot.
ACTRA national executive director Stephen Waddell confirmed that his union had offered Fox a no-strike waiver that would allow actors to work on the production under the current agreement and, when the new one comes into effect, apply the conditions retroactively.
“We’re looking to find a way that we can accommodate the needs of this individual production without compromising our overall collective-bargaining negotiations,” said Waddell.
When it was suggested that Canadian producers may see such a side deal as favoring U.S. producers, Waddell said, “We’re not intending to do that. But the U.S. studios are not signatories of the negotiating protocol.”
“Daredevil” producers and ACTRA had not reached an agreement by late afternoon Monday.
Other execs from U.S. studios have told Canuck film industry reps that they will not shoot in Canada in the next few months unless they can definitely wrap by Jan. 16.
ACTRA claims the studios are being alarmist and that they should let the negotiations follow their regular course; there are no plans to fast-track talks because of the Hollywood worries.
Another production that may by-pass Montreal as a result of the labor conflict is Castle Rock’s adaptation of the Stephen King bestseller “The Dreamcatcher.”
The pic, to be directed by Lawrence Kasdan, was originally set to shoot in January in the Montreal area, but the producers are considering other locations.