Venice Festival’s Opening Film Backs Out Due To Hollywood Strike

The film will be replaced by the Italian drama ‘Comandante.’

Luca Guadagnino’s Challengers, starring Zendaya, was supposed to be part of the 80th Venice International Film Festival’s opening selection.

However, the organizers announced that the film pulled out because of the ongoing Hollywood strike. Instead, Edoardo De Angelis’ Italian drama Comandante will now open the film festival.

READ ALSO: For A Fair Tomorrow: What To Know About Hollywood’s First Shut Down In Six Decades

Challengers’ studio also postponed the film’s wide release. From its initial planned September 15, 2023 theatrical release, it has been pushed back to April 26, 2024.

Mike Faist as Art, Zendaya as Tashi, and Josh O'Connor as Patrick in Challengers
Mike Faist as Art, Zendaya as Tashi, and Josh O’Connor as Patrick in Challengers

Zendaya along with her co-stars Josh O’Connor and Mike Faist are unable to promote the film according to SAG-AFTRA’s guidelines. This includes festival attendance, press junkets, and social media campaigns.

Challengers, a tennis drama, follows the love triangle between athletes. “Tennis player turned coach Tashi (Zendaya) has taken her husband, Art (Faist), and transformed him into a world-famous grand slam champion,” said MGM Studio’s synopsis for the movie.

“To jolt him out of his recent losing streak, she makes him play a ‘Challenger’ event — close to the lowest level of pro tournament — where he finds himself standing across the net from his former best friend and Tashi’s former boyfriend (O’Connor).”

Director Luca Guadagnino on the set of Challengers
Director Luca Guadagnino on the set of Challengers

Guadagnino previously won the best director award at Venice for his last film, Bones & All. His other films Suspiria and A Bigger Splash also premiered at the festival.

The upcoming festival circuit plays a huge part in building buzz for films, especially those that will eventually become major awards contenders. At last year’s Venice Film Festival, movies like Tár, The Whale, and The Banshees of Inisherin had their world premieres.

Images via MGM Studio’s official website.

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