Zendaya's Challengers Movie Gets Concerning Release Update

By Savannah Sanders Posted:
Zendaya Challengers

Not only is the SAG-AFTRA strike shutting down productions but it may also delay completed movies featuring A-list stars like Zendaya

In addition to the Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike which began in May, the Screen Actors Guild (SAG-AFTRA) rocked the industry upon announcing the union and its members were striking as of midnight on July 14. 

While it's true that upcoming films and ongoing productions are indefinitely paused, studios have a number of movies already in the can. 

However, it now seems those films, such as Zendaya's Challengers, may be delayed as well. 

When Will Challengers Release?

Challengers Zendaya scene
MGM

As reported in Matt Belloni's Puck newsletter, director Luca Guadagnino is interested in pushing Challengers' release as the current SAG-AFTRA strike prevents Zendaya from promoting the film. 

The adult sports dramedy which also stars Josh O'Connor and Mike Faist is set to open the 80th Venice Film Festival on August 30, followed by an Amazon Prime debut on September 15. 

According to Belloni, Zendaya's $10 million dollar payday for the movie is partly due to her red-carpet presence and online popularity, drawing even more attention to the film in which she's also serving as a producer.

Since the strike prevents Zendaya from promoting Challengers, Guadagnino reportedly suggested delaying its release. Amazon declined to comment. 

Earlier this year, the actress secured a hefty $1 million per episode paycheck for HBO's Euphoria Season 3, a stark contrast to co-star Sydney Sweeney's $350,000 per episode. 

While her previous pay is unknown, the renegotiation was likely due to her Emmy wins, as well as her established public persona. 

Prior to her Euphoria deal, Matt Belloni reported Zendaya made $10 million in bonus checks for her role as MJ in the MCU's Spider-Man trilogy

Will Studios Delay Other Zendaya Films?

It's no wonder that director Luca Guadagnino wants to push Challengers release. 

Given that the film was largely built around Zendaya, it's highly unlikely that it will perform to standards without her ability to promote it. 

Also, many directors are supportive of their actors and the strike and may prefer to highlight the cause as opposed to films. 

Director Kenneth Branagh referred to the SAG-AFTRA strike as "an existential moment in our industry" and echoed his support saying, "I think it's the way to go."

In addition, Oppenheimer director Christopher Nolan voiced his support promising he will "absolutely" not be working on another film during the strike. 

Even though Amazon has yet to comment on a possible delayed release for Zendaya's Challengers, it makes sense from both a business and optics point of view to agree with Guadagnino. 

But what's truly newsworthy about Zendaya's next movie is it proves wrapped films may also be affected by the strike, particularly those with the biggest budgets and brightest stars.

Not only will studios be wrestling with halting productions and future film slates, but also the question of whether to release a costly film without the involvement of its cast.

In the weeks to come, it will be interesting to see what Amazon chooses to do with Zendaya's Challengers

But even more fascinating will be how studios handle even bigger films releasing later this year, including Zendaya's other 2023 role, Dune: Part II