US actors' strike threat to UK films

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The Independent Culture

Britain's resurgent film industry may be stuck in limbo for months, with hundreds of stars prevented from filming in the UK because of the strike by Hollywood actors.

Britain's resurgent film industry may be stuck in limbo for months, with hundreds of stars prevented from filming in the UK because of the strike by Hollywood actors.

Several movies scheduled to shoot this summer have been put off, because America's acting union is forbidding its members to work unless Hollywood studios guarantee actors a share in the profits from video, DVD and pay-TV sales of their films. The strike primarily concerns US actors, but strict union rules mean high-profile British stars, such as Hugh Grant and Sir Michael Caine, will also be forced to take part. The disruption, to start on 1 July, is planned by the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), the closed-shop union all actors in US television and cinema join. Non-American members will be allowed to work only if their project uses non-US funds.

Producers fear the disruption could paralyse UK film-making for months. One said: "The problem is potentially much wider. While the strike is on, production companies will find it impossible to sign big stars for future films, and without names for projects they won't attract funding."

Timeline, based on a bestseller by Michael Crichton, author of Jurassic Park, was to start filming in the UK in August, but is now "on hold". Anthony Minghella has postponed filming of his latest costume drama, The Assumption of the Virgin, and Alan Parker's next project has been put back.

British film-makers have been beset by other troubles. Numerous television and movie location shoots have been disrupted by the foot-and-mouth crisis, including the film Morvern Callar, which had to be moved from Oban to one of the Western Isles which has no livestock.

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