The cast of Disney’s “Haunted Mansion” were only at their premiere in spirit. Following the breakout of the SAG-AFTRA strike, the stars of the film skipped out on the Saturday night premiere for the theme park film adaptation
The movie, the second adaptation of Disney’s iconic Haunted Mansion attraction after the 2003 Eddie Murphy film, stars a large ensemble cast that includes LaKeith Stanfield, Tiffany Haddish, Danny DeVito, Rosario Dawson, Jamie Lee Curtis, Winona Ryder, Dan Levy, Hasan Minhaj, Chase W. Dillon, Marilu Henner, and Lindsay Lamb. None of the actors attended the red carpet at Disneyland in Anaheim, according to Variety. Under the terms of the SAG-AFTRA strike, which began on Thursday, guild members are not able to take part in press junkets or promotional duties for studio films they are in while the guild is in a work stoppage.
Instead, the carpet — which took place at the Hyperion Theater in the park’s Disney California Adventure area — featured costumed performers dressed as classic Disney villains like the Evil Queen, Maleficent, and Cruella de Vil, and well as Minnie and Mickey Mouse. According to Variety, Disney likely went on with the premiere due to revenue from corporate sponsors like State Farm, Zillow, New Orleans & Company and Michael’s.
One significant guest who did show to the premiere is Justin Simien, the film’s director. In an interview with Variety he said he was “sad” the cast couldn’t attend, but supports the walkout. Before the screening in the theater began, Simien joked that “Obviously, we’re here at a weird time in the industry. There’s some folks that aren’t here. Of course, I’m referring to the multiple walkouts on ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars,’” before shouting out the cast for their work on the film.
Dawson spoke to Variety on Friday while picketing the Warner Bros. lot at Burbank. Talking about the premiere going forward, Dawson said “It only gives more visibility to what we’re trying to talk about here and negotiate here. People don’t want to take off from work, but they’re willing to in order to push for justice in this space.”
The “Haunted Mansion” premiere comes shortly after Disney CEO Bob Iger made controversial remarks about the ongoing WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes, calling the union’s demands “not realistic” and “very disturbing.” In his interview with Variety, Simien spoke about Iger’s statements, saying that “I would really love to sit down with him and talk. I don’t if how he meant it is how it felt to me.”
He continued, “I would love to talk to him about the reality that we all face as artists to make the impossible happen every day.”
“Haunted Mansion,” which releases in theaters July 28, is one of many Hollywood films to adapt their premieres in response to the SAG-AFTRA strike. Universal canceled the red carpet for “Oppenheimer’s” New York premiere on July 17, after the cast left the carpet during the UK premiere on Thursday. Apple’s “The Beanie Bubble” and Paramount’s “Special Opps: Lioness” have also canceled their premieres.