MONTREAL — The threat of a Canuck actors strike has cost Montreal a $60 million Hollywood pic.
The 20th Century Fox/New Regency thriller “Daredevil,” skedded to shoot early next year in Montreal, will move to Vancouver after talks between Fox and the Alliance of Canadian Cinema, Television and Radio Artists (ACTRA), Canada’s main actors union, broke down Tuesday.
The row centered on the independent production agreement between ACTRA and the producers, which expires Dec. 31. Negotiations begin mid-October, but if no deal is struck, actors could walk out on Jan. 16, 2002, threatening any productions filming.
Actors in British Columbia have a separate agreement that expires March 31, 2002, which will allow “Daredevil” to wrap before any potential strike in Vancouver.
Several U.S. studios have threatened to boycott shooting in Canada in the coming months, due to fears of Canuck actors hitting the picket lines.
ACTRA had been desperately trying to keep “Daredevil” in Montreal and on Monday, the Toronto-based union offered the producers a special waiver guaranteeing that any strike action would not disrupt the shoot.
But any chance of a deal fell apart Tuesday when Fox told ACTRA national executive director Stephen Waddell that it could not recover a deposit it had put down on Vancouver’s Bridge Studios before the waiver offer came through.
Producer Bernie Williams said: “We’re in a business situation. We love Montreal and we wanted to film there. But we have a committed start date of Nov. 19 and we have no room for delay. So we acted on ACTRA’s rejection of us Thursday. Deposits were put down Friday to beat the other studios’ rush to Vancouver. And we have to pay because they’ve turned down other films.”
ACTRA officials expressed surprise at Fox’s decision. “Obviously we’re disappointed to hear that they’re going to Vancouver,” said Raymond Guardia, director of operations for the Toronto office of ACTRA. “The pieces don’t add up.”
Labor woes may also cost Montreal “The Dreamcatcher,” the adaptation of the Stephen King bestseller to be directed by Lawrence Kasdan and produced by Castle Rock/Warner Bros.; “Confessions of a Dangerous Mind,” to be directed by and starring George Clooney; and Warner Bros. pic “The In-Laws.”
The Canadian Film and Television Production Assn. has asked ACTRA to offer a blanket no-strike waiver to all productions, Canadian or American, shooting in Canada before the strike deadline.
ACTRA and the producers have yet to meet to discuss this proposal.