20th Century Fox has pulled Daredevil, a multi-million dollar feature produced by Bernie Williams (The Score) and directed by Mark Steven Johnson (Simon Birch), out of Montreal for fear of a strike by 18,000 Canadian actors union (ACTRA) members.
At the same time, other Hollywood studios have sounded the alarm for U.S. productions shooting in Canada for fear of a strike arising when the major collective agreement for Canadian actors expires in January.
The studios are now seeking waivers from ACTRA to continue production in Canada should a strike arise.
Fox is moving its production to Vancouver, B.C., where actors have a different agreement under the Union of B.C. performers, and there have been indications that other productions may also be moving out of Canada as a result.
Last week ACTRA responded angrily to the move, calling the studios' threats a "pre-emptive move ... to set their own strike deadline" that would "foster instability within the Canadian entertainment industry." ACTRA then stated that the union will work with individual U.S. producers to ensure that there will be no uncertainty when the ACTRA collective agreement expires. ACTRA says it is currently offering special producer-ACTRA agreements negotiated on a production-by-production basis that would ensure that qualified U.S. producers could continue production in the unlikely event of an industry-wide performers' strike.
U.S. studios currently enjoy economic advantage when shooting in Canada given the low value of the Canadian dollar, federal and provincial tax incentives for foreign producers and lower overall production costs.
According to ACTRA, fees paid to Canadian performers generally account for less than 1% of an average Hollywood production budget and Canadian performers cast in U.S. productions earn half the minimum daily wages of U.S. performers in projects destined for the global market.