Marvel Studios is pushing pause on its vampire superhero movie “Blade” starring Mahershala Ali, making it the first major tentpole film to be impacted by the writers strike, an individual with knowledge of the production confirmed to IndieWire.
The film was meant to begin shooting next month in Atlanta and was in pre-production. Cast and crew members were notified of the shutdown on Friday afternoon, and production will not be able to resume until whenever the strike ends.
This is the second delay for “Blade,” which was originally scheduled to release in theaters this November before getting pushed to September 2024. Last September, original director Bassam Tariq exited the project two months before production was initially scheduled to begin. Yann Demange was hired in November, and the studio added new talent to the project earlier this month, including Mia Goth in the cast and “True Detective” creator Nic Pizzolatto, who is writing a new draft of the script by Michael Starrbury.
While “Blade” confirms its status as the unluckiest Marvel Studios production around, several other Marvel productions are expected to start or continue production during the strike. One film and two shows — “Captain America: New World Order,” “Agatha: Coven of Chaos,” and “Wonder Man” — are currently filming, while “Deadpool 3” and “Thunderbolts” are still going ahead with production later this month and in June, respectively.
Other big blockbusters generally have their scripts evolve during production, but Marvel plans out release dates well in advance and often is writing on the go, which could pose challenges if the writers strike drags on. Marvel is currently casting “Fantastic Four” and is scheduled to begin filming in January 2024 in London.
It’s also against the strike rules for WGA members who are also “hyphenates,” or dual members of the WGA and another guild, to do any writing work on a project even when they’re working in a separate capacity. That includes what’s commonly known as “(a) through (h)” services, or a variety of work — such as cutting scenes or small changes to dialogue during production — that non-writers can perform on WGA-covered shows, according to the union’s contract. Disney and HBO earlier this week sent a letter to its showrunners reminding them of their responsibilities, which poses a dilemma for some hyphenates.
The 2023 Writers Strike began on Tuesday after the guild and the AMPTP failed to reach a deal on a new minimum bargaining agreement, and the two sides are very far apart, suggesting things could drag out for a while. Late night shows have gone dark, and numerous other TV shows have already seen their writers rooms paused.
THR first reported the news.