Zendaya’s ‘Challengers’ moved to 2024, will miss Venice amid actor strike

MGM pushes Luca Guadagnino Challengers set to 2023. The R-rated tennis drama starring Zendaya was set to have an animated premiere at the Venice Film Festival, followed by a theatrical release on September 15. It will now open in theaters on April 26, 2024 and retire as an opening night feature film in Venice, which is scheduled to run from August 30 to September. 9.

“How are you doing in Venice without Zendaya’s support?” notes a source for the release date change.

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In a twin move, Venice announced a new substitute opener Challengerswith filmmaker Edoardo De Angelis commanding officer taking the place. The move signals stress ahead for fall festivals as they plan for a season possibly without SAG-AFTRA cast members, who are barred from doing promotional work during the strike.

In Challengers, Zendaya stars as former tennis prodigy Tashi Duncan, who is now a coach whose husband (Mike Faist) is on a losing streak. He ends up feuding with the stranded Patrick (Josh O’Connor), who is his former best friend and Tashi’s ex. As their past and present collide, Tashi is forced to ask herself what she is willing to do to win.

Challengers is produced by Amy Pascal through her Pascal Pictures banner, along with Guadagnino and Zendaya. Playwright-singer-writer Justin Kuritzkes penned the screenplay, which landed on the 2021 blacklist.

This is the latest in what is sure to be more release date changes amid the strike. On Thursday, Lionsgate announced that it was pushing several titles, including its dirty dance following. Zendaya is also among the stars of Dune: part twocurrently slated for November 3, which is another title that would be difficult to open without the support of its A-list cast.

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