Death of a Unicorn & Mother Mary: The A24 movies going ahead amid strikes

Daisy Phillipson
Anne Hathaway in Love & Other Drugs and Jenna Ortega in Wednesday

With the A24 movies Death of a Unicorn and Mother Mary going ahead despite the ongoing writers and actors strikes, we’ve broken down why they are still filming, what they are about, and who’s in the casts. 

Back in May, The Writers Guild of America announced its first strike in 15 years, calling for fairer pay in the streaming era and stricter regulations over the use of artificial intelligence in TV and film production. 

Despite the show of support from industry figures, negotiations with major studios including Disney, Netflix, and NBCUniversal fell through and, this week, the actors’ guild in the US announced its own strike, joining the WGA at the picket lines.

While countless productions have been halted as a result of the action, news has emerged of a number of projects going ahead, including the A24 movies Death of a Unicorn and Mother Mary, starring Jenna Ortega and Anne Hathaway, respectively – here’s what you need to know. 

Why are Death of a Unicorn & Mother Mary going ahead despite strikes?

As reported by Variety, SAG-AFTRA has approved a total of 39 independent productions to film during the strike “after confirming that they are not tied to AMPTP companies,” and the list includes the movies Death of a Unicorn and Mother Mary from indie studio A24.

AMPTP member companies include: major movie studios such as Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures, Universal Pictures, Walt Disney Studios, and Warner Bros; TV networks including ABC, CBS, FOX, and NBC; and streaming services like Netflix, Apple TV, and Amazon.

When SAG-AFTRA – a combination of the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists – went on strike, it released a statement saying: “We’re up against a system where those in charge of multibillion-dollar media conglomerates are rewarded for exploiting workers.”

Twitter of the actors guide strikes

It went on to say that the companies represented by AMPTP “are committed to prioritizing shareholders and Wall Street,” arguing that performers need better pay amid record inflation. 

Like the WGA strike, the main issues are the decline of workers’ residuals and compensation due to streaming and protection against using actors’ images and performances to replace them with AI technology – without consent or compensation. 

But since Death of a Unicorn, Mother Mary, and a variety of independent projects aren’t tied to any AMPTP companies, they have been offered signed “Interim Agreements” from SAG-AFTRA to go ahead with production. 

Publishing the list, the actors’ guild wrote: “As of 07/18/2023, this list includes productions that are signed to agreements within the scope of the strike order, but have signed Interim Agreements allowing them to resume. Members may work on these productions without being in violation of the strike order.” 

What is Death of a Unicorn about and who is in the cast?

Written and directed by indie producer Alex Scharfman, Death of a Unicorn is an upcoming A24 dark comedy movie starring Paul Rudd and Jenna Ortega as a father and daughter whose accidental crash into a unicorn leads to a battle against the odds. 

A synopsis released by Ioncinema reads: “This tells the tale of Elliot and his teenage daughter Ridley who are en route to a crisis management summit with Elliot’s bosses – the pharmaceutical titan Leopold and his family – in the remote wilderness when they accidentally crash into a unicorn. 

Tweet about Death of a Unicorn movie

“It isn’t long before the Leopolds get hold of this magical creature and their scientists discover that its flesh, blood, and, most of all, horn are endowed with supernaturally curative properties, which the Leopolds seek to exploit.”

Earlier reports suggested Death of a Unicorn is expected to begin filming this month in Budapest, Hungary. Now that it has been granted an Interim Agreement by SAG-AFTRA, it is free to go ahead. 

What is Mother Mary about and who is in the cast?

Green Knight filmmaker David Lowery is directing the upcoming A24 drama movie Mother Mary, centering on the love story between a fictional music artist and fashion designer, played by Anne Hathaway and Michaela Coel, respectively. 

As per Deadline: “The film will be an epic pop melodrama following a fictional musician (Hathaway) and her relationship with an iconic fashion designer (Coel). Topic Studios is co-financing with A24.”

The outlet went on to say that filming will take place in Germany, adding: “This marks the third collaboration between A24 and Lowery following The Green Knight and A Ghost Story. A24 will handle the global release of the film.”

Tweet about the Mother Mary movie

And if that weren’t enough to get people hyped, back in May, it was announced that Euphoria icon Hunter Schafer would be joining the cast, with sources telling Deadline that she’ll play Hilda, the assistant of Coel’s Sam.

A poster released in May suggested pre-production on the movie had started, although it’s not been confirmed when this will run until. As is the case with Death of a Unicorn, production is permitted to continue amid the strikes due to its Interim Agreement from SAG-AFTRA.

We’ll be sure to keep this post updated when new details are made available. 

You can read more about the writers strike here, the actors strike here, and check out some of our other TV and Movie hubs below: 

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