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The impact of Hollywood strikes on the F1 movie

Filming for the hotly anticipated Apple Formula 1 movie will now continue until the end of the 2024 grand prix season due to the ongoing Hollywood actors’ strike.

Brad Pitt filming F1 race movie

Brad Pitt filming F1 race movie

Mark Sutton / Motorsport Images

Producer Jerry Bruckheimer and director Joseph Kosinski spoke to F1 drivers and team principals at the 2023 United States Grand Prix in Austin, Texas to update them on the project.

As a result of the Screen Actors Guild strike over pay and protection against Artificial Intelligence, which has now surpassed 100 days to make it the longest actor strike in history, the F1 movie crew will revisit more circuits next year to complete principal photography.

While resolution talks with studios continue, leading SAG cast members Brad Pitt, Damson Idris, Kerry Condon and Javier Bardem - striking in solidarity with their less famous and well-paid colleagues - will not return to work in time for filming at this year’s final two F1 races in Las Vegas and Abu Dhabi.

Other cast members such as Tobias Menzies and Kim Bodnia - plus actors playing the fictional Apex GP team mechanics and race crew - can continue to work since they are members of Equity, the UK actors’ association. Although, Equity has maintained its support for the Hollywood strike throughout and has not ruled out action of its own.

As the F1 movie, billed as the largest-scale sporting film ever attempted, manages a reported $200million budget around these logistical changes, a reduced production crew will be sent to races for which the lead actors are absent. This includes the inaugural Las Vegas GP (16-18 November) and Abu Dhabi season finale (24-26 November).

Speaking at the United States GP in Austin last weekend, Lewis Hamilton - a consultant producer to the film - revealed Vegas would make up a significant chunk of the film. “It will play an important part of our movie,” he said. “We’re really just working as hard as we can to make sure that it's a true reflection of this legendary sport. Both the old and the new… [As F1] we do have to continue to grow. I think the movie particularly is going to help do that.”

PLUS: How Apple's F1 film "authenticity" claims really stack up

Cast and crew filming a scene for the upcoming F1 movie featuring the fictional Apex racing team

Photo by: Simon Galloway / Motorsport Images

Cast and crew filming a scene for the upcoming F1 movie featuring the fictional Apex racing team

As a result of the need to scale back this season, the film crew will return to Vegas and Abu Dhabi - and several other venues - for the F1 rounds next season. Of the races recorded at so far, the 2023 British GP, which notably featured filming taking place during the pre-race grid ceremony and Pitt and Idris driving the star cars, was the least affected as filming ran a week before the actors’ strike commenced.

Despite the disruption, a 2025 release date for the Apple F1 movie is unchanged. Accordingly, post-production on the footage already captured will run simultaneously alongside the remaining scenes being filmed to ensure a timely delivery.

Of the scenes still outstanding, storyboarding the plot (which focuses on Pitt’s character Sonny Hayes coming out of retirement to mentor Idris’s hotshot driver Joshua Pearce) has enabled the crew to pinpoint and bring forward what segments can be filmed without the lead actors.

This included using an early 2000s Lola B2K/10 sportscar prototype fitted with cameras to record the tracks and star cars, FIA F2 chassis modified by Mercedes Applied Science to resemble current F1 machinery, at Silverstone and Budapest. Footage of the crowds and circuits has also been shot.

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