Musicians Union Pickets Marvel Over Runaway 'Avengers' Score

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American Federation of Musicians
The AFM decries the Disney-owned studio’s decision to “run to Europe” for post-production scoring.

Blasting Marvel Studios as “unfair” for scoring megahit The Avengers non-union in Europe, members and leaders of the American Federation of Musicians, including president Ray Hair, picketed the Disney subsidiary’s Manhattan Beach facility Friday morning, handing out leaflets that ask “how many billions must your companies earn before Marvel will score its film music here at home?”

The union estimated the size of its contingent at about 50 people, and noted that a smaller group will be leafleting in front of Disney’s El Capitan theater in Hollywood this evening. Although Disney uses AFM musicians, the union said that the company is allowing Marvel not to.

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“AFM lobbied for production incentives to help keep work at home in the U.S.,” Hair told The Hollywood Reporter. “We think it’s unfair for them to take the cash and then run to Europe.” He raised the possibility, perhaps rhetorically, of the union returning to Congress and advocating repeal of incentives.

A Marvel spokesperson declined to comment.

Also irksome to the AFM is a perceived double standard. “Everything else in their film production from the stars to the grips and truck drivers is unionized,” said Marc Sazer, president of an AFM affiliate, the Recording Musicians Association.

That issue’s not limited to Marvel, of course; the AFM finds itself the odd man out more often than most Hollywood unions. Tentpole films often feature wall-to-wall music, but the tunes are frequently offshored. Indeed, the union picketed Lionsgate in January, targeting a Mad Men shoot but focusing at least as much on Lionsgate’s high profile Hunger Games, which – like The Avengers – decamped to the Continent when it came time to record the score.

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That picketing helped lead to a union deal the following month – but for Mad Men only, not Lionsgate’s other projects.

Nor is the AFM the only union with tentpole issues. IATSE has been attempting to organize visual effects workers, most recently at Sony Pictures Imageworks, but so far unsuccessfully. The IA has scheduled an open meeting on Sunday to publicize its efforts.

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Email: jhandel@att.net

Twitter: @jhandel