Conflict Arises Between Disney and Rachel Zegler After Major Changes

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Star of Disney's live-action Snow White remake Rachel Zegler in front of the seven dwarfs.

Credit: Inside the Magic

Actress Rachel Zegler has officially been pitted against Disney in the latest development.

Rachel Zegler is a rising star in the entertainment industry, known for her exceptional talent and captivating presence. Born in 2001, she has rapidly made a name for herself in the world of film and music. Her journey to stardom began when she started posting cover songs on social media, showcasing her remarkable singing abilities and connecting with a growing audience.

Rachel Zegler shocked in The Ballad of Snakes and Songbirds
Credit: Lionsgate

One of Zegler’s most notable achievements is her portrayal of Maria in Steven Spielberg’s West Side Story (2021), a role that earned her widespread acclaim. Her performance in this iconic musical not only showcased her acting skills but also her powerful singing voice, solidifying her position as a versatile and talented actress.

While Zegler has already begun to see her career take off on the big screen, the most prominent role that she’ll play is Snow White in Disney’s live-action version of the classic 1937 animated film. Though filming has reportedly been completed, Zegler has faced much backlash over comments that she has made about changes Disney is making to the film. The comments, alongside many other points, led to heavy backlash for Disney, which will need to make more than $340 million at the box office to break even.

While it’s unclear if the backlash was the sole reason why, Disney even elected to push the film back a full year– now set to release in March 2025– rather than allow the film to be released this coming spring. The feeling, at least from many, is that this will allow some of the backlash to die down. Along with the delay, Disney did release a first look at Zegler as Snow White, but that’s the only update we’ve received on the film, which is also set to star Gal Gadot (Evil Queen) and Andrew Burnap (Jonathan).

Snow White and Rachel Zegler
Credit: Disney (left), 20th Century Studios (right)

With the delay in place, it’s interesting to note that Disney has now officially been pitted against the actress who will one day portray the Disney princess.

Variety has reported that The Hunger Games prequel, titled The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, has received an interim agreement from SAG-AFTRA. This development allows the film’s stars, including Rachel Zegler, Tom Blyth, Viola Davis, Peter Dinklage, and Hunter Schafer, to actively promote the movie in the lead-up to its theatrical release on November 17.

The timing of this agreement coming so close to the film’s release date remains unclear. However, the last-minute boost in publicity could prove instrumental in attracting audiences to theaters during the Thanksgiving season. It’s worth noting that The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes represents a substantial financial investment, with a production cost of $100 million. The film marks a significant gamble for Lionsgate, as it is the first installment in the franchise in eight years and the first without Jennifer Lawrence in the lead role.

Rachel Zegler in The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes
Credit: Lionsgate

In the context of the ongoing actors’ strike, films that failed to secure interim agreements have faced challenges at the box office, the report notes. Notable examples include Sony’s comedy Dumb Money, featuring Seth Rogen, Pete Davidson, and America Ferrera. These films lacked the usual red-carpet premieres and late-night talk show appearances that typically accompany major releases. Even big-budget productions, such as Dune: Part Two, were forced to delay their release to 2024 due to the strike, as lead actors like Timothée Chalamet and Zendaya couldn’t engage in promotional activities.

Thus far, over 100 films, including A24’s Priscilla and The Iron Claw, as well as Michael Mann’s racing drama Ferrari, have managed to secure interim agreements amid the SAG-AFTRA strike. To obtain such an agreement, producers must operate independently from companies affiliated with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) and accept the terms proposed by the guild during negotiations. Since Lionsgate, the studio behind The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, is not part of the AMPTP, the film’s theatrical releases are eligible for these arrangements.

Disney's Snow White looking terrified against a background of green eyes
Credit: Disney

With the interim agreement now in place, the cast is expected to attend premieres in Berlin and London, as well as a fan event in Los Angeles. Beyond these events, the ensemble is free to engage in social media promotion, and Rachel Zegler, for instance, boasts a substantial following of over 1.2 million followers on Instagram, where she proudly displays “SAG-AFTRA Strong” in her bio.

What’s interesting about this report and interim agreement is that it puts Rachel Zegler back to work to promote the competition. She will go head-to-head with several movies in November, including two of the most prominent and important Disney films: Wish (2023) and The Marvels (2023). Both of these movies are expected to be major “make or break” style films for the company, but the Hunger Games prequel starring Rachel Zegler could put a damper on some of those hopes.

What do you think of this competition between Rachel Zegler and Disney? Let Inside the Magic know in the comments!

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