Zendayas Challengers Skips Venice Film Festival Launch Due to SAG-AFTRA Strike

Luca Guadagnino’s “Challengers,” starring Zendaya, which had been set as the Venice Film Festival opener, has been pulled from the festival due to promotional complications prompted by the SAG-AFTRA strike.

Venice has announced that the sexy sports comedy — in which Zendaya plays a former tennis prodigy turned coach entangled in a love triangle with two pro tennis players, played by Josh O’Connor and Mike Faist — has changed its distribution strategy. The film’s promotion has been disrupted by the current actors strike, which prohibits SAG-AFTRA union members from doing any type of promotional activity.

This means Zendaya, O’Connor and Faist would not have been able to launch the film on Aug. 30 on the Venice red carpet.

Venice organizers confirmed in a statement on Friday that the film “will not participate at the festival following a decision made by the production.”

A Sept. 15 U.S. theatrical release date for “Challengers” had been set for the hotly anticipated film – which marks Guadagnino’s first full-fledged U.S. studio movie – and will be distributed in the U.S. by Metro Goldwyn Mayer Pictures/Amazon Studios, and internationally through Warner Bros Pictures. Fresh reporters have indicated that the film’s September release date will also shift.

“Challengers” is written by American playwright Justin Kuritzkes and produced by Amy Pascal, Guadagnino, Zendaya and Rachel O’Connor. Executive producers are Bernard Bellew, Lorenzo Mieli and Kevin Ulrich. The music is by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross.

The 80th edition of the Venice Film Festival will run Aug. 30-Sept. 9.

More to come.

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