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Tuesday, 18 September, 2001, 18:11 GMT 19:11 UK
Film industry's strike dread
The Mummy Returns
The Mummy Returns brought millions to British film
The UK film industry has reacted with horror to the news that actors' union Equity has recommended that its members go on strike.

Equity, which represents 36,000 actors, has told its members to refuse to work on any movie project after December.

Harry Potter
Harry Potter II will not be affected as feared
There are already fears about the forthcoming James Bond but the effects are likely to be wide-ranging.

Adrian Wootton, the director of the London Film Festival, told BBC News Online: "This is disappointing news.

"I really hope that, as with the US strike, sensible negotiations will be conducted to try to remedy the situation."

He added that the differences between actors and studios in the US were resolved sensibly, without a strike, and he hoped it would be the same in the UK.

'Standstill'

Adam Minns, UK film editor of Screen International, said the news did not bode well.

"If it goes ahead it'll bring the industry to a standstill," he said.

This move is the latest in a long-running dispute about the flat advance fee UK actors receive for television broadcasts of films, video and DVD sales.

Equity wants its members to get bonus payments, like their US counterparts, should the film become a success.

As of today Equity members - from extras to stars like Ewan McGregor and Vanessa Redgrave - will be contravening union rules by accepting roles in films from December.

Band of Brothers
Band of Brothers made in UK with US funding
the Producers' Alliance for Cinema and Television (Pact) says that if the strike goes ahead the effects could be devastating.

"We are concerned that arrangements should not make the financing of British films even more difficult, or result in a reduced level of inward investment from overseas, particularly from Hollywood," Pact said in a statement.

Difficult

Certainly, producers considering filming in the UK next year will have been put off by even the possibility of actors refusing to come on set.

It has already been a difficult year for the UK film industry.

Production was suspended on films because of fears of a US actors strike and as Louis Melville, of the New Producers Alliance says, the foot-and-mouth crisis will also have hit rural film making.

"We hope for all concerned that negotiations can be brought to an amicable and speedy resolution," said Melville.

This is the real point - negotiations are on-going in this dispute.

The lead time to December means there will not be any immediate effect and since talks are on-going the dispute may be resolved before the industry is hit.

Mr Minns compares the situation to the threatened US actors' strike earlier in the year which rendered Hollywood immobile but never went ahead.

"Everybody thought the US actor's strike would go ahead and then on the eve of the agreement running out they seemed to compromise," he said.

See also:

02 May 00 | UK
22m boost for British films
27 Jun 01 | Arts
Regional film gets 6m boost
29 Aug 01 | Film
Hollywood slump hits UK film
18 Sep 01 | Film
Actors' union opts for strike
21 Jun 01 | TV and Radio
Ealing for the 21st Century
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