Michael Mann’s Ferrari movie has been a three-decade passion project, and with a teaser trailer released on August 30, it’s never been closer to coming to fruition. But the film—which stars Adam Driver as Enzo Ferrari, Penelope Cruz as his wife, Laura, and Shailene Woodley as his mistress, Lina Lardi—has received some scrutiny for going ahead with its red carpet premiere amid the ongoing SAG-AFTRA and Writers Guild of America strikes that have shut down production on many high-profile films and TV shows.
In July, stars of Oppenheimer like Cillian Murphy, Matt Damon, and Emily Blunt made headlines when they left the film’s red carpet premiere as the strike officially began. The key difference between Oppenheimer and Ferrari is that the former was a product of the major studio system, having been distributed by Universal Pictures, while Mann’s movie is an independent release through Neon, the Academy Award-winning company behind Parasite and Portrait of a Lady on Fire. In his Variety cover story, Mann spoke about why Ferrari was a good fit for a distributor like Neon as opposed to the name brand studios.
“The origins of the movie and the content of the screenplay and the movie that you saw do not fit into the kind of film that would be embraced by the conventional studio system,” Mann said. “It’s truly appropriate that it is an independent film being distributed by Neon, a very independent distributor.”
Amidst the strike, a handful of movies have received exemptions, meaning actors can work while still respecting the rules of the strike. These films are independent projects, and have received a waiver from SAG-AFTRA, which People described as being granted “if the productions agree to the updated contract set forth by SAG-AFTRA during negotiations.” Some of the biggest productions to continue during the strike are the black comedy fantasy film Death of a Unicorn starring Jenna Ortega and Paul Rudd, and Mother Mary, the music industry drama featuring Michaela Coel, Anne Hathaway, and Hunter Schafer. Both of these movies will be A24 releases. (Other projects include a Matthew McConaughey thriller, a Rebel Wilson action comedy, and the Mildred Burke wrestling biopic Queen of the Ring.)
Speaking at a Ferrari press conference, Driver asked a pointed question about the major studios, saying, “Why is it that a smaller distribution company like Neon and STX International can meet the dream demands of what SAG is asking for–this is pre-negotiations –the dream version of SAG’s wishlist, but a big company like Netflix and Amazon can’t?”
Ferrari made its world premiere at the Venice International Film Festival, before premiering stateside as the closing film for the New York Film Festival. It will get a wide release starting on December 25. Per The Hollywood Reporter, Ferrari received a “seven-minute standing ovation and a “rapturous reception” from the Venice audience.