Category: Reign of Fire News | Posted by: admin
Article Date: January 14, 2001 | Publication: Sunday Mirror | Author: Eamonn O'Hanlon
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THE most expensive movie ever made in Ireland is in a desperate race against time to beat a threatened strike by the all-powerful Hollywood actors union.

Filming of the pounds 50 million science fiction epic Reign Of Fire, starring Christian Bale and Matthew McConaughey, must be completed by June 30 - the date when the Screen Actors Guild is expected to down tools.

The strike, linked to marathon negotiations in the United States over actors' fees, looks set to paralyse Hollywood and have a devastating knock-on effect on American productions around the world.

Work on the Disney-backed Reign of Fire, the story of fire-breathing dragons which take over the planet after mankind is devastated by nuclear war, is about to begin at Ardmore Studios in Co Wicklow.

Speaking from Los Angeles last week, producer Lili Fini Zanuck said she was pulling out all stops to ensure that the project was wrapped up ahead of the June 30 deadline. She said: "Reign Of Fire was already on the fast track before the strike happened.

"But it had to be accelerated when we discovered it had to be finished by the end of June.

"All of this is good news because it means we are getting things done quickly.

"Admittedly the thing had gotten slow before we found out about the strike.

"Everybody was very deliberate. They wanted guarantees. They'd say: 'Don't even make it, if you can't cast this one actor'. But it's actually pretty nice right now. Crews want to make a pre-strike picture and this is their only chance to work if there is a strike."

Talks between groups representing writers, actors, directors and movie crews and the American TV networks and movie studios have been going on for months.

The Screen Actors Guild has been pressing hard to secure a better deal for rank and file actors, who are paid union rates while big stars negotiate their own multi-million dollar deals.

Talks ground to a halt late last year after the two sides failed to reach agreement on a new pact covering film and TV work. The current agreement runs out on June 30.

The power of the Screen Actors Guild was underlined recently when it slapped an pounds 75,000 fine on British actress Liz Hurley for crossing a Hollywood picket line to film a commercial for Estee Lauder.

Irish actors and crew on the Reign Of Fire set are well aware of the possible consequences of working through a strike.

A movie insider said: "It remains to be seen what approach the American unions will take towards productions taking place overseas.

"Had this been an all-Irish movie there would be no problem.

"But it is a US-financed and produced movie which just happens to be taking place at an Irish studio.

"It is quite possible that the Actors Guild will tell everybody to stop work, even though the movie is being shot on the other side of the Atlantic in Ireland.

"The consequences for people's careers of ignoring such an order do not bear thinking about.

"The producers are taking no chances of the movie being mothballed while the strike takes place. "

Copyright 2001 MGN Ltd.