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Zendaya’s R-rated Tennis drama Challengers’ gets release date shift, Venice Film Festival’s opening night affected amidst SAG-AFTRA strike

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MGM has decided to delay the release of Luca Guadagnino’s highly anticipated film, “Challengers,” which stars Zendaya in a powerful role. Originally scheduled for a thrilling debut at the Venice Film Festival, followed by a theatrical release on September 15, 2023, the R-rated tennis drama will now hit theaters on April 26, 2024. The rescheduled date coincides with the opening night of the Venice Film Festival, set to take place from August 30 to September 9.


The shift in release date has raised concerns among industry insiders about attending Venice without Zendaya’s presence, as she plays a significant role in the film. Her absence during the festival could potentially impact the film’s reception and promotional opportunities.


In response to “Challengers” postponing its premiere, the Venice Film Festival organizers have swiftly replaced it with Edoardo De Angelis’ film, “Comandante,” as the new opening night feature. This decision signals potential challenges for fall festivals, considering the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike, which restricts actors from participating in promotional activities. As a result, festivals may have to navigate the absence of A-list actors during the promotional campaigns of their films.


The postponement of “Challengers” is not an isolated incident, as the industry anticipates more release date shifts due to the ongoing strike. Lionsgate, for instance, has recently announced the postponement of several titles, including the highly awaited Dirty Dancing sequel. Additionally, Zendaya is involved in “Dune Part Two,” slated for release on November 3, which may also face challenges without the full support of its star-studded cast during the strike.

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