‘Priscilla’ L.A. premiere moves after IATSE threatens picket

The Los Angeles premiere of “Priscilla” scheduled for Monday at the Hollywood Legion Theater has been upended by an ongoing labor dispute and will change locations after the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees threatened to picket the event.

A representative for A24, which is handling the film’s distribution, confirmed to The Times on Friday afternoon that it will be moving the premiere to a yet-to-be-determined location. A24 and the “Priscilla” production team were made aware of the labor unrest and contract dispute — between IATSE Local 33 and the veterans organization — on Thursday evening.

Strategy PR, meanwhile, said in a statement, “Out of respect for the events going on in the world, we will be forgoing a red carpet for the ‘Priscilla’ Los Angeles premiere,” seemingly referencing the Israel-Hamas war.

“IATSE Local 33 would like to thank the production team of A24 and the film production personnel for ‘Priscilla’ with their solidarity with moving the event,” Ronald Valentine, the union’s business representative, said in a statement to The Times, specifically thanking Sofia Coppola, who directed and co-produced the film.

“We will not be bullied into signing an unfair agreement for our veterans,” said a spokesperson for American Legion Hollywood Post 43.

IATSE Local 33 and Post 43 have filed dueling unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board as the fight for a new contract intensifies. The union’s original contract with Post 43 had expired in 2021 and has since been hampered by disagreements over the future of the theater and the salary of one of the theater’s key employees, former chief projectionist Taylor Umphenour.

IATSE 33 alleged in its August filing that Post 43 bargained a new contract in bad faith by “failing to send persons with authority to the bargaining table; failing to support the tentative agreement in the internal approval process; and misrepresenting the content of the tentative agreement in the internal approval process,” according to the NLRB documents obtained by The Times. The union first picketed the theater on Sept. 14.

An event invitation to Monday’s “Priscilla” screening promised appearances by Coppola, the film’s stars, Cailee Spaeny and Jacob Elordi, and its subject, Priscilla Presley, who executive produced the pic. The movie, which premiered at the Venice Film Festival in September, follows the relationship between Elvis and Priscilla Presley. Its stars also were present for its Venice world premiere. A24 had signed an interim agreement with SAG-AFTRA, the union representing Hollywood actors, to allow its stars to promote the film amid its ongoing strike.

Baz Luhrmann’s 2022 “Elvis” biopic also screened at the Hollywood Legion Theater.

Earlier this week, IATSE 33 alerted SAG-AFTRA about the event and its ongoing contract dispute and called on its sister union’s members to boycott the premiere. The theater had planned to hire a nonunion projectionist to run the screening. Valentine said SAG-AFTRA then reached out to A24, while the theater’s former chief projectionist, Umphenour, contacted Coppola’s production team, leading to a Thursday night meeting about the issue.

The following morning, Valentine announced that IATSE members would picket the event and called on SAG-AFTRA members not to cross the picket line “until Post 43 fulfills its legal obligations and signs the collective bargaining agreement to which it already agreed.”

Recently touted as the hottest red carpet in L.A., the Hollywood Legion Theater has been beset by a litany of problems including sexual harassment claims and labor strife.

Five members of Post 43’s governing executive committee, including a pair of former commanders, have resigned since May, along with the theater committee chair. The Post chaplain also has stepped down. Thirteen of the theater’s 16 employees have quit, including two managers and both projectionists.

Times staff writer Jessica Gelt contributed to this report.

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